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The Floorball Book

Formations and Tactics

Table of Contents
Table of Contents ................................................................
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................................................. 1
Game Basics................................
Basics................................................................
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......................................................... 1
The Rink .............................................................................................................................. 2
Players ................................................................................................................................. 3
Basic Game and Rules ........................................................................................................ 3
Tactics ................................................................
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.................................. 6
Basic Roles........................................................................................................................... 6
Defending............................................................................................................................. 7
Attacking ............................................................................................................................. 9
Key Ideas ........................................................................................................................... 13
Variations .......................................................................................................................... 14
Goalkeeper......................................................................................................................... 18
Substitution ....................................................................................................................... 18
Power Play ......................................................................................................................... 19
Box Play ............................................................................................................................. 20
Free-Hit ............................................................................................................................. 22
Hit-In ................................................................................................................................. 29
Face-Off.............................................................................................................................. 29
Penalty Shot ...................................................................................................................... 32
Skills ................................................................
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.................................. 33
Running with the Ball ...................................................................................................... 34
Passing the Ball ................................................................................................................ 39
Shooting ............................................................................................................................. 43
Goalkeeper......................................................................................................................... 47
Airhooking ......................................................................................................................... 49
Licence ................................................................
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............................................................... 50

Game Basics
Floorball is an indoor team sport played on a rink which is a bit bigger than the
basketball court (15 m by 28 m). This is mentioned because of the markings already
present in most halls. The rink is in fact the same as the handball court: 20 m by 40 m.
The court is enclosed by boards of 50 cm height, with rounded corners. Floorball is also
played on a smaller rink with only sight differences. In this section, the basic rules are
introduced, as are the basic formations when playing floorball.

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In countries where there is a tradition of ice hockey or field hockey, similarities between
said sports and floorball are often highlighted. Normally, floorball is played with five field
players on each side, plus a goalkeeper. The number of players on the rink can be affected
by bench penalties. Each team is allowed 20 players. Substitution may take place at any
time, and indeed substitutions do take place very frequently because of the intensity of
the game. In top-level games, substitutions take place as often as every minute.
The basic movement in floorball is by running. In schools floorball is liked because of the
relative lack of body contact, as well as the good workout it offers. In adult leagues the
game can become quite physical, but the rules emphasize fairplay and safety. Tactical
considerations become more important the higher the level of game.

The Rink
4 1 Figure 1 illustrates a floorball rink as seen
from above, with the key parts identified by
numbers. The rink is divided into two halves
5 2
6 7
by the centre line (1). The centre spot (2) is
used to start the game, and to confirm goals.
There are six face-off dots (3): one in each
3 3
corner and two on the centre line. A face-off
can only take place on one of these designated
Figure 1: The rink: (1) centre line, (2) spots. The playing field is encompassed by the
centre spot, (3) face-off dots, (4) board, boards (4), with rounded corners. The goals
(5) goal, (6) goal crease, (7) goalkeeper are placed near the far ends of the rink (5),
area. but it is possible to play around the goals. The
goalkeeper is largely restricted to the goal crease (6). Within the goal crease, goalkeepers
are relatively free in their actions to defend the goal. The smaller area is called the
goalkeeper area (7). Only the goalkeeper is allowed in this area.
All dimensions of the rink are clearly defined. Where floorball is played on a smaller rink,
the dimensions differ, but the basic outline of the rink is identical.
The goals are 160 cm wide and 115 cm high. They have a depth of 65 cm. There are
designated substitution zones, placed on each side of the centre line, 5 metres away from
the centre line. The substitution zones are 10 metres long and 3 metres deep. There are
benches for the substitute players, and the team staff. During training sessions, most
clubs do not use benches, but have substitute players stand or sit outside the rink.
Clubs without boards often use makeshift substitutes: long benches as found in most
sport halls placed in the corner will do in many cases. Benches placed in the corners have
the advantage that the ball does not get stuck in the corners where it is very difficult for
players to move out from when under pressure. Substitutes and material, such as stick
bags, can also be kept outside the playing area when benches are used.
As floorball is still a new sport in many places, many sports halls do not have floorball
markings on the floor. Players need to agree on where the playing area stops. This is
particularly important if the hall is very large, or if its shape differs significantly from a
floorball rink. Existing lines can be used as guides, but it is necessary to agree on the
limits before playing. Knowing the size of other courts may also be useful.
When playing a proper game, such as a friendly or a competitive game, you should always
have the full markings on the floor. You can use tape to do so, but always check with the
facilities manager. Some kinds of tape stick so well that it is difficult to remove them
afterwards. Worse still, some floors may be damaged by the adhesive used for some tapes.

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Players
Field Players
Field players are equipped with a stick. They wear shirts
and short trousers, as well as knee socks. For training
sessions, many players choose not to wear knee socks. If you
choose to wear shin guards, you should always also wear
knee socks. Shin guards are a matter of choice. On the one
hand, they can reduce the pain when getting hit by a stick,
but on the other hand, many players find them
uncomfortable. Some players wear multiple pairs of socks
rather than shin guards. Appropriate footwear should
Figure 2: The captain
always be worn. The team captain differs from the other
wears an armlet on the
field players in that she or he wears an armlet on the left
left arm
arm, which should be clearly visible. It is possible to have
the word ‘captain’ or the letter ‘C’ written on the armlet, but this is not at all necessary.
The captain’s role largely is to communicate between the team and the referees. Whilst
the captains have the right to talk to referees—something ordinary field players do not
have, strictly speaking—the captain is required to assist the referees. In training
sessions, a captain needs not to be designated. For friendly games, having a captain is
probably optional, but for competitive games, a captain is required. Tape is not allowed
instead of an armlet.
Goalkeepers
The goalkeepers are equipped differently from the field players. The rules stipulate that
they wear long trousers and a shirt, as well as a face mask. In practice, a goalkeeper
wants to wear padded clothing. There is in most cases a trade-off between maximum
padding, comfort, and the ability to move freely. Modern goalkeeper equipment means
that such a trade-off can be minimized. Whilst goalkeepers want to wear padded clothing,
because shots can hurt quite a bit, they are not allowed anything designed to make the
area they cover bigger. This means that goalkeeper equipment from hockey is not
suitable. Similarly, whilst goalkeepers are allowed to wear gloves, they are not allowed to
wear catching gloves. In floorball, goalkeepers do not use sticks.
Referees
There are two referees in floorball games. Both referees are equal, meaning that there is
no head referee. The referees control the game and ultimately can send players off
depending upon the severity of the rule infringement.

Basic Game and Rules


There are six to twenty players in each team. Of these, there are usually 5 field players
and one goalkeeper on the rink. Substitution can take place at any time and is normally
carried out as a whole line of players at a time. It is possible to substitute the goalkeeper
with an additional field player in certain circumstances. A game starts with a face-off at
the centre spot, all players must start on their own side. A full game is 3 times 20
minutes with intermissions of 10 minutes. The teams change sides after each
intermission.
A face-off is carried out by two players. The
players face each other; their blades do not
touch the ball, although they are close to the
ball. The blades are on floor and parallel. The
defending team may place the stick first
(choosing which side of the ball to place their
stick). At the centre spot, it is the guest (away)
Figure 3: Correct face-off team to place the stick first; all other players
must be at least 3 metres away (including sticks). A face-off may lead to a goal. Other

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 3


than to start the game, a face-off is awarded when the ball is damaged, the ball is not
playable, the referees cannot decide the direction of a free-hit or hit-in, after a failed
penalty shot, or when a player suffers from serious injury.
A hit-in is carried out not further than 1.5 metres away from the board, at the place
where the ball left the rink. Like with the face-off, all opponents need to be at least 3
metres away (including sticks). A hit-in may lead to a goal. If the ball leaves the rink
behind the extended goal lines, the hit-in is carried out on the closest face-off dot in the
corner. A hit-in is not only awarded when the ball leaves the rink, but also when the ball
touches objects above the rink or the ceiling.
A free-hit takes place where the offence was
committed. If an offence took place behind the
extended goal lines, the free-hit is carried out
on the closest face-off dot in the corner. A free-
hit is never carried out closer than 3.5 metres
to the goalkeeper area. This allows the
defenders to build a defensive wall, because all
opponents (including sticks) need to be at least
3 metres away. In floorball, the advantage
rule always applies: If the non-offending team
still control the ball, giving greater advantage
than free-hit, play is not interrupted. The
Figure 4: All players from the opposing referees shout advantage, and it is them who
team need to take at least 3 metres decide when the rule applies.
distance from the place of a free-hit
A free-hit is awarded when a player hits,
blocks, lifts, kicks, or holds the stick of and opponent, or the even holds the opponent.
Repeated offences and slightly more severe offences (considerable advantage) lead to a
bench penalty. A free-hit is also awarded if the stick or foot are raised above waist level.
If no other player is nearby, a front-swing above waist level is generally tolerated. A
back-swing above waist level is not tolerated. If the ball is played with the stick above
knee-level, or places their stick or foot between the opponent’s legs, a free-hit is awarded.
A free-hit is also awarded when a player pushes an opponent other than shoulder to
shoulder. This means sudden and active pushing. If the ball is kicked twice (active), or
kicked to a team mate, a free-hit is awarded to the other team. The offence is receiving
the ball. A free-hit is also awarded if a player moves backwards into an opponent, or
jumps to stop the ball (running is OK). A goalkeeper controlling the ball for longer than 3
seconds, or throwing out the ball so that it crosses the centre line without hitting the floor
first, are other offences leading to a free-hit.
Two minute bench penalties are used for slightly more severe offences. The player
receiving the bench penalty spends time on a designated penalty bench. The size of the
team on the rink is affected, but there are always at least 3 field players per team on the
rink. This means that two bench penalties can run against a team at the same time. If a
team receives a goal when short-handed, the penalty expires.
When a player plays the ball above waist level, or plays without a stick, he or she is sent
off for two minutes. Other offences leading to a two minute bench penalty include holding
an opponent or equipment, blocking an opponent’s way, body-checks, pushing over the
board or against the goal cage, deliberately obstructing an opponent who is not in control
of the ball, playing with hand or head, or playing when on the floor. Field players are
allowed to place one knee, and their stick hand on the floor as a maximum. A player
throwing him or herself into a shot is always sent off for two minutes.
A player closer than 3 meters at a face-off, hit-in, or free-hit, is sent off for two minutes.
No offence occurs if the player is trying to move away. A team with too many players on
the rink—such as a substitute entering the rink before the other player left—incurs one
two-minute penalty.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 4


Five minute bench penalties are used for serious offences. A player incurring a five
minute bench penalty cannot be replaced on the rink. In contrast with the two minute
penalty, if the team receives a goal, the penalty does not expire. Five minute penalties
are awarded for dangerous and violent strikes, when the stick is used to hook an
opponent, or when the stick is thrown to hit the ball. For even more serious offences there
are match penalties (red card). Unsportsmanlike behaviour is penalized with a ten
minute personal penalty. The personal penalty does not affect the team size.
A penalty shot is carried out from the centre spot. All other players, except for the
defending goalkeeper, need to leave the rink. The ball needs to move in a constant
forward motion during the penalty. Once the goalkeeper touches the ball the player
cannot touch the ball any more. This means that a player is only allowed one shot.
However, if the ball bounces off the goal and then goes into the goal (even when deflecting
off the goalkeeper), the goal counts. The player is allowed an unlimited number of
touches. A penalty is awarded if an offence prevents a clear goal situation.
When played on a small rink, the key difference is that there are three field players and a
goalkeeper on the rink for each team. The distance to free-hits, hit-ins, and the face-off is
reduced to 2 metres.
Full Rules
The full rules can be obtained from the IFF (http://www.floorball.org).
Basic Formations
The floorball rules do not prescribe any formation. There are however, some basic
formations that are commonly played.
Full-sized Rink
On the full-sized rink, the
basic formation consists of
two defenders, two
4 attackers, and a centre.
Figure 5 outlines these
5
positions, for a black and
white team. The white
3 defender (1) is essentially
6
matched by the black
attacker (2). The white
1 centre (3) is matched by his
2 or her black counterpart.
The white attacker (4) is
matched by the black
defender (5). It is customary
Figure 5: Basic formations. for the centre to take the
face-off at the centre, but if one of the attackers is much stronger, the roles can be
swapped for the face-off. The goalkeepers (6) are not usually considered when it comes to
tactical formations, since there is very little scope for changing the position.
Small Rink
On the small rink, there is no such thing as a basic formation. With only three field
players and a much smaller rink, every field player may take every position during a
game. The most forward-oriented players obviously play in the attack, but without
support from the defender(s), attacking is difficult. It is common to designate one player
as a central defender who will generally stay back, but is ready for shots from the centre
line. A more defensively oriented team might keep two players back, and try to attack
with only a single attacker.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 5


Possibilities with the Ball
The player with the ball has a number of possibilities to play.
He or she may choose to pass the ball to another player. A pass
can be low (on the floor) or high (through the air), played
forehand, or backhand. In most cases, there is more than one
pass that can be played. The player can try to finish by shooting
Pass
on the goal. There are different ways to shoot. Finally, the
player may choose to run with the ball: dribbling. There are
Shoot
Dribble
many different tricks he or she can choose from.

Figure 6: Possibilities The player can also stop the ball and wait for a moment before
deciding which of these possibilities he or she wants to use.
Figure 6 illustrates these possibilities. Advanced players will spend less time consciously
considering these options, as many moves will have become near automatic in nature.
Many training exercises are designed to ensure such moves become instinctive and
second nature, so that when a player receives a ball, he or she can simply play on.

Tactics
Basic Roles
Floorball tactics are defined by the basic formations, and variations thereof. Changes to
the basic formations at moments the opponents do not suspect are what you should aim
for. The ultimate aim is obviously to score goals, and goals can be scored more easily
when the defence is (temporarily) disorganized. On the other hand, the aim of the
defenders is to prevent goals from happening. This is done most effectively by preventing
the opponents having direct shots on goal.
General Positions
Defender: There are normally five field players and one
goalkeeper on the rink for each team. The
basic positions are: goalkeeper (1 person),
defender (2), centre (1), and attacker (2).
There is a left defender and a right defender.
Similarly, there is a left attacker and a right
attacker. These are often called left wing and
right wing respectively. These roles are
Centre:
outlined in figure 5 on page 5. A defender is
primarily responsible for his or her side.
Figure 7 illustrates primary areas of
responsibility. The centre is responsible to
support the attack and to support the defence.
This means that centres are require to run a
lot and have an excellent sense of position. An
Attacker: attacker is primarily responsible for his or her
own side when in attack and to cover his
opposite side’s defender when the opposite
team are in attack.
These areas are the primary zones of
responsibility, and depending on the situation
of the game, any of the players might be found
Figure 7: Primary areas of elsewhere on the rink. There is also a certain
responsibility area of overlap, and players may choose to
swap roles during the game. This means that the left defender and the right defender
may choose to swap. A different yet common scenario is that a defender comes into the

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 6


attack, and then either the centre or the attacker from the same side drops back to
temporarily take on the role of defender.

Defending
If black have the ball, everyone in the white team is responsible for defending. There are
different systems to defend, but the fundamental aims of defence are the same:
preventing the attackers from scoring.
The two different approaches to defending are
marking people, and defending zones. When a
2 team choose to defend by marking people, each
player on the rink is assigned to one of the
opponents. When a team choose to defend by
zones, each player on the rink is assigned to a
3 certain area in the rink. There are mixtures of
1 these two approaches (marking opponents, but
with swapping sides; or the defenders mark
Figure 8: Defending opponents, the other field players do zones),
and the choice is largely down to what the team members are comfortable with: what
works for them. On the small rink, marking people is probably more common, on the full
rink zones are probably used more often.
Strict marking of people is very tiring, but actually very effective. Strict zone defending
needs great discipline, but is also very effective. Mixes are successful, too, but the team
members need to communicate. What does not work well, is if the different field players
try to defend in different ways, where the left defender does not do the same as the right
defender. Without communication, it is possible that two players end up marking the
same opponent—meaning that one of the opponents is not marked. Some teams adjust
their tactics according to the opponents, particularly if they know them. Figure 8 outlines
a common defending position. The attackers come back to the centre line to close down
space (1). The centre also moves back to close down space. The defenders are close to the
attackers to leave them only a little room to manoeuvre (2). They are particularly vigilant
in the slot. They place themselves in between the goal and the attacker (3), so if the
attacker receives the ball, he or she cannot shoot directly. With all the field players back
in their own half, the opponents will find it far more difficult to find a position from
where to shoot from. Note that the attackers cannot act very successfully in this setup.
Defending in zones means that if the attackers cross over, the defenders stay on their
own side. This has the advantage that the defenders do not need to run excessively, but
also that free space is reduced as much as possible. In contrast, where teams choose to
mark opponents, the defenders run with their assigned attacker.
Role as a Defender
The role of a defender is characterized by the following points. You are often more
successful waiting for the attackers to make a mistake than chasing to gain the ball off
them. If you try to chase a ball, and make a mistake, the attacker can often shoot.
Concentrate on closing down space and intercepting passes. As a defender you:
• try to close down space (leave fewer options for the attackers)
• try to intercept passes
• do not hit the attacker’s stick to get the ball
• do not normally try to get the ball off the attacker
• maybe try to nick a ball if unprotected
• do not normally defend behind your own goal
If you successfully close down space, it is difficult for the attackers to build up an attack.
They may be able to pass the ball around freely in their own half, but that is not very
dangerous.

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When marking people, in terms of skills, the difficulty is to keep up with an attacker. You
should be reading the game and assessing the possibilities of the attacker you mark.
Standing close to the opponent is often successful, as it normally means that when they
receive the ball, the attackers cannot shoot direct. You stand close to the opponent, on the
side of the goal. The stick is on the floor, close to the opponent’s stick. In almost all cases,
you want to focus on the forehand of the attacker, as this is the side players are stronger.
What is more, when it comes to shooting, the forehand is more useful. A player using the
backhand for a shot is usually a bit slower to set up the shot, and this gives the defender
a little bit more time. When marking people, your attention should be on the game, not
just the attacker. This means that you will be aware of where the ball is, and where other
players stand. Holding your opponent or their equipment is not allowed.
Defending Behind the Goal
It is generally a bad idea to defend behind
your own goal. The reason is simply that the
attacker can run the other way and then the
other team may have one more person in front
1 of your own goal. Instead, wait on the
extended goal line, making passing difficult.
Take care not to stand in the goalkeeper area.
Figure 9 illustrates where you can stand to
defend a player behind the goal. One of the
defenders stands near the goal, watching the
attacker with the ball closely (1). The defender
Figure 9: Behind the Goal does not go behind the goal, but waits. The
attacker is unable to score a goal from that
position. The other defender, as well as the centre is close to the other opponents. They
focus on closing down space, and making sure that passes cannot be received easily. Note
that the positions of the defenders are of course dynamic and adjust according to what
the opponents do. The defender at (1) may choose to stand closer to the goal post, but
should never stand inside the goalkeeper area.
If the attacker attempts a hook (or wrap around), the defender can take one step closer to
the goal, removing the space needed for the trick. The same is true for an airhook. The
defender might want to take just one step behind the goal line, placing the entire body in
the way. This way scoring with an airhook becomes much more difficult. In order to
determine what the attacker has in mind, defenders will need some experience, but may
also wish to observe how exactly the attacker keeps the ball. For an airhook, for example,
the ball needs to be in the pocket at the front of the blade.
General Defending
Figure 10 indicates some good practises as a
defender. The primary goals are to close down
space, not allowing the attackers to finish
1 onto the goal (shoot), and intercept passes.
The defender close to the attacker stands so
that the attacker is unable to shoot from this
position (1). The focus is on the forehand,
2 because almost all players are stronger and
quicker on their forehand. The defender also
places his or her stick so that passing is
2 difficult (2). The stick is on the floor, because
passes on the floor are generally more
3 dangerous. The defender does not try to get
Figure 10: General Defending the ball off the attacker, because in that case
one little trick of the attacker may mean that
he or she can shoot. The other defender also prepares to intercept a pass (2). Again, the
stick is on the floor. The defender stands close to the other attacker (3), leaving little

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 8


room to manoeuvre. A successful defence is able to close down space without feeling
nervous simply because the ball is close to their own goal. The ball is only dangerous
when it is in a position from where a goal can be scored. Note that the positions of the
defenders are of course dynamic and adjust according to what the opponents do. If the
attackers leave the ball unprotected, the defender will of course get the ball of them, but
generally, a comfortable defence is happy to wait until the attackers lose the ball.
Chasing the Ball
As a defender, you do not normally try to actively chase the ball off the attacker. In no
circumstances should you hit the attackers or their sticks to get the ball of them. This
leads to a free-hit, which is normally of greater advantage to them. Moreover, if you
actively chase the ball, the attacker may simply turn around and proceed towards the
goal on the other side. Focus on the forehand, but do not neglect the backhand. The
reason is that almost all players are stronger and quicker on the forehand, but if there is
space enough, many will turn easily onto their other side.
Defensive Walls
See the section on building a defensive wall on page 22 below.
Goalkeepers
Goalkeepers are the last line of defence. In tactical terms, their role should not normally
be counted on: defence is the role of the field players—in particular the defenders. The
goalkeeper is more of a safety net, the player helping out when the defence fails. This
makes goalkeepers very important players.
Probably the only time when goalkeepers are involved in tactical play and positioning is
when there are two attackers and only one defender. In this case, the defender will need
to try to position him or herself in such a way that the attackers cannot shoot. However,
there is often a trade-off between preventing the shot and preventing the pass. When the
game is close to the goal, the defender preventing the pass is overall more successful,
since the goalkeeper is more effective in stopping a shot than a defender.

Attacking
If black have the ball, everyone in the black
team is responsible for attacking. The black
attackers try to open up space by running into
different positions. The black centre supports
the attackers. The black defenders move
forward to support the attackers and venture
the odd long shot. Figure 11 shows the basic
positions to attack. Note that the defenders (in
Figure 11: Attacking white) do not act very successfully.
The attackers (shown to the right above) try to open up space and with that create
possibilities to play the ball. This means that they need to run continuously to create
space and draw defenders out of position. The centre moves forward to support the
attackers. The defenders also move forward to about the centre line to support the attack.
One of the defenders always stays back a bit more than the other. This is necessary to
prevent quick counter-attacks, or is useful if the ball is lost near the centre line.
Depending on the situation, even the defender further back moves up to the centre line or
even in front of it. The defenders may designate one player as the last defender, or
communicate on a case by case basis, keeping the attack more dynamic.
Role as an Attacker
As an attacker, you are concerned with keeping the ball and opening up possibilities to
finish onto the goal (shoot). Normally, shots onto the goal are your only chance of scoring.
As an attacker you:

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 9


• try to open up space (more options to play)
• try to play safe passes (be sure that they arrive)
• shoot on the goal if you can
• have one attacker in the slot if possible
• confuse the defence by running continuously and switching sides
• try to keep the ball moving
• run into a position where you can receive the ball
Opening a Game
When you have the ball in the defence, you start the attack by opening the game. All the
moves here assume that the ball is with one of the defenders in the corner. For balls right
in front of your own goal, simply add a pass to the defender in the corner.
Through the centre
This is a common way to open the game. The
ball is played from the defender to the centre
who then distributes the ball towards one of
the attackers in the corner.
The attackers run forward from the centre line
as soon as the attack is launched. By running
this way, they are also ready to receive a ball
Figure 12: Through Centre directly (see below). The centre will try to play
the pass as soon as possible, best somewhere
around the centre line (runs with ball if necessary). Direct throw-outs to the centre are a
possibility, but many teams like to take the time to organize themselves, and thus start
in the corner.
Direct
This is an alternative to the above opening.
The ball is played from the defender directly
to one of the attackers. The centre also runs
forward in order to assist the attackers. By
playing this opening from time to time, the
opponents will no longer have a sure way to
defend; not knowing which way the ball is
played.
Figure 13: Direct
To launch an attack, if possible, the ball is
played low: on the floor. You can play direct or play off the board. Low balls are easier to
receive. Some defenders use wide high passes, playing above the opponents in the centre.
This is particularly useful if the centre of the rink is crowded.
From the Corner
This move applies both to when the ball is
received by the attackers directly from the
defenders, or when the centre is involved.
If the ball is in the left-hand corner, the centre,
the other attacker, and the left-hand defender
will all try to be available to receive the ball
and shoot onto the goal. One player will be
right in front of the goal (usually the right
wing). One player will be at a comfortable
Figure 14: Corner shooting range (usually the centre), and the
defender will come forward to the centre line
to be available for long shots.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 10


It is important that the players do not remain static, since a static game is relatively easy
to defend against. The players keep moving so that they can receive the ball.
Through the Centre
Once the centre receives the ball, he or she
distributes it to the attackers in the corners. If
the ball cannot be played, the attackers need
to move around into a position where they can
receive the ball. This can be done by changing
speed (accelerate suddenly), or by crossing.
Crossing means that the two attackers will
swap, the left attacker will move to the right
and vice versa. This move should leave the
defenders behind for a short moment: long
Figure 15: Through the Centre enough for the pass to be played. Once the ball
is in the corner, the same as above (“from the
corner”) applies.
Slot
The slot is an important area when playing
floorball. A shot from this area often leaves no
time for the goalkeeper to react. Therefore,
having an attacker in the slot is often a good
idea. The attacker in the slot should not
remain static, but run around to be in a
position to receive a pass. Another thing an
attacker in the slot can do is deflecting a shot,
making it very difficult for the goalkeeper to
catch the ball.
Figure 16 illustrates the area commonly
referred to as the slot. Some players call it the
Figure 16: Slot mouth. It is the area immediately in front of
the goal. Having one attacker in the slot is often a good idea, especially if he or she can
receive a pass in the area. Some players, when playing in the corner, choose to pass the
ball into the slot in any case. Whilst this can result in dangerous attacks, blind passes
have the tendency to miss their target, or the other attacker need so much time to control
the ball that the defenders have time to re-organize themselves. Nonetheless, a pass in
the slot is often dangerous.
Through the Corner
In order to play to the slot, here is a move that
should allow you to get the ball into the slot
for attacking. The centre plays to the attacker
in the corner. The attacker then turns with
the ball, shielding it against the defender. At
the end of the turn, the attacker plays the ball
into the slot, from where the centre can
venture a shot.
As alternatives, the centre may want to play
the ball off the board, making it more difficult
for the defender to intercept the pass before it
reaches the attacker. Similarly, the centre
Figure 17: Through the Corner may already be on the same side as the
attacker, rather than in the centre. The pass in all cases needs to be precise and fast
enough, so that the defender cannot reach the ball before the attacker. Once the attacker
controls the ball, he or she shields it well against the defender, and turns in a continuous

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 11


way—back always against the defender—to eventually pass the ball into the slot. This is
a single move.
There are many combinations that can be
successfully combined with this move. For
example, a high pass may be used to launch
the attack (figure 18). The high pass should be
received about half way between the centre
line and the corner, as it will take a moment
for the attacker to properly control the ball.
The attacker runs towards the corner and
Figure 18: High pass then plays the ball into the slot. When
running, the attacker will need to shield the ball.
Crossing over (see just below) can be added to make sure the attacker can receive the ball.
Once they receive the ball in the corner, the turning move is done as in the previous
examples. Both the centre and the other attacker may get ready to get a shot in the slot
area.
Crossing Over
One of the best ways for opening up space is to
run around. The two attackers can swap their
sides. It is a good idea to change at the same
time. This may confuse the defenders for a
little while (until they get organized again),
and this may be just the moment you need to
score. Figure 19 illustrates how you can cross
over in a floorball game.
It is a good idea to try crossing over in
training a couple of times, so that both
attackers know where they want to run.
Uncoordinated sudden runs can in rare
Figure 19: Crossing Over occasions lead to collisions. Some players cross
over behind the goal, or with one player crossing behind the goal and the other in front of.
This is a choice up to the attackers, and also up to the precise situation of the game. It is
possible to cross over twice in a short time, something that may unsettle a defence even
more. See the section on variations on page 14 for further ideas of how to bring about
movement in the game, and thus opening up space.
Defenders Support Attack
The defenders do not sit back and watch the
attackers running circles. Instead, they move
forward towards the middle line and support
the attackers. From this position, the
defenders can keep the ball moving, but also
venture the odd shot. If a defender comes
further forward such as in front of the goal,
then usually one of the attackers or the centre
falls back a little bit. A defender coming
forward can be a crucial link to cross the ball
from one side to the other. Figure 20
illustrates a defender coming forward to
support the attackers. This is particularly
Figure 20: Support useful if the attacker is stuck in a corner with
little possibility to pass the ball.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 12


Help with Passing
A situation you want to prevent as an attacker
is to hold the ball without any possibility to
pass. For a short while, most attackers are
able to keep the ball by shielding it. However,
most players find it hard to keep the ball for a
long period of time when under pressure.
Many players also find it difficult to keep the
ball and at the same time look out for other
players. If a player gets stuck, the others
should run into a position where a pass is
possible. The game is of course dynamic, and
this means that an attacker may have to keep
Figure 21: Help running to be in a position to receive the ball.
Figure 21 illustrates such positions. Note that in the case illustrated, both the centre and
the other attacker move to offer themselves. One of the two will receive the ball, and the
other will have to move again to be able to receive the ball.
Getting Away from the Defender
1 2 3 4

Figure 22: Turning around the back: In (1) the defender and attacker try to get into a
better position by pushing (shoulder to shoulder). In (2) the attacker turns backwards,
letting the defender (in black) run into empty space. The attacker turns with the back
towards the defender (3), and end up on the other side of the attacker (4), ready to receive
the pass. This sequence assumes a pass from the right-hand side.
The easiest way to get away from a defender is to change speed suddenly. Very fast
players will be able to outrun their opponent in any case, but changes in speed may give
you enough of an advantage even where the defender is faster.
When playing in the slot, as an attacker you might not want to run far, simply because
doing so would be giving up your position in the slot. Many players jostle trying to get the
upper hand, but it is often easier to turn round backwards. This means that when the
attacker and the defender stand shoulder to shoulder, rather than pushing against the
defender, the attacker quickly rotates to the other side, turning around the defender, and
is then free on the other side to receive the pass. Figure 22 illustrates this move. It is very
successful particularly if the defender tries to push the attacker away from the slot. In
this case, once the attacker starts the move away (2), the attacker might well push in a
direction where there is no longer any resistance, and thus end up losing the favourable
position.

Key Ideas
The key ideas of floorball tactics are that both the attack and the defence are the job of
everyone. Whilst there are often players designated as attackers or defenders, the other
field players need to support them. The key aspect of a defender is to close down space.
The attackers try to do the opposite, by opening up space, and thus increasing the
possibilities to play the ball.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 13


Variations
The basic formation introduced in the previous section is just that: basic positions for the
players. In this section, a number of variations are introduced. The idea is to make you
aware of the different ways space can be opened up. The key to a successful attack is
communication, where all the field players know what is going on, and therefore can
position themselves accordingly.
To begin with, many teams choose to try out variations in the safe environment of a
training session. The next level is a friendly game, and then the power play situation in a
game. A power play situation is suited, because the players are under less pressure. Of
course, when the score is close, the team probably want to use tried and tested tactics
during a power play. A variation is truly mastered, if it can be used in normal a game:
that is with five on five field players.
Circle Around the Goal
This variation involves the two attackers and
the centre. On the small rink, this variation
can be used with all the players involved. The
three players run in a large circle around the
goal. The ball is passed in the opposite
direction: that is the players play the ball to
their back. The players can run with the ball
for a few moments before passing the ball on,
but the idea is that the ball is in constant
movement. A shot is either attempted when
there is a gap allowing a direct shot on the
goal, or by passing the ball in the opposite
direction. Passing the ball in the opposite
Figure 23: Circle direction means that one of the players passes
the ball back to the person the ball was
received from, rather to the one behind. By playing such a surprise pass, there should be
a gap allowing a direct shot on the goal.
The same variation can be played with all five field players involved. In this case, the two
defenders move forward, too, and join the circle. The circle may be a bit larger than with
three players. Alternatively, four players can circle around the goal, with the fifth player
at the centre spot. This player is both a centre back and an additional position for
passing, should the players get stuck. As a variation to the variation, so to speak, in any
case—be it three, four, or five players—the ball can be passed forward to begin with, and
then the actual attack takes place with a pass backwards. The most effective moment to
attack is when the surprise pass can be played across the slot, right in front of the goal
Quick Pass
This variation is based on the ability to play
fast and precise passes, as well as direct shots.
One of the attackers plays in a corner, keeping
the ball. The other attacker positions him or
herself in the slot—constantly moving so as to
be able to receive the ball at any time. One of
the defenders comes forwards, to take a
position where he or she can play a long shot.
The centre takes a position in between, also
ready to shoot. Watching all the three other
players, the attacker with the ball plays a fast
and precise pass to one of the three. The
player receiving the ball shoots at once. The
Figure 24: Quick pass key to success in this variation is the ability to

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 14


change the pace of the game, slowing it down when the ball is in the corner, and then
suddenly attacking.
Centre Drop Back
The centre drop back is a simple variation.
One of the defenders moves forwards along the
side line, supporting the attackers. The centre
drops back, taking the position of the
defender. If carried out swiftly, this variation
can open up enough space to shoot on the goal.
As with most variations, communication is the
key to success. A centre dropping back without
the defender knowing what is going on will not
bring about a variation of play, but weaken
the attack. Similarly, a defender moving
forward without the centre being prepared
may weaken the defence should a counter-
Figure 25: Drop attack take place.
Wide Cross-Over
Wide cross-overs are an addition to the
common cross-overs. Rather than the
attackers swapping sides, this variation
largely involves one attacker. The attacker
changes to the other side, but then turns and
runs back to his or her side. It is possible to
spend a moment on the opposite side before
running back, possibly adding to the
confusion. Wide cross-overs are particularly
successful if the attacker involved is fast, and
can open up additional space by running
faster than the defenders.
It is important that both attackers know what
Figure 26: Wide is going on, so that the attacker not changing
sides, does not attempt to do so, thinking he or she has missed to do an ordinary cross-
over. The aim is to confuse the defence, not your team mates.
Rotation
Rotation is a variation of the standard
crossing over. It not only involves the
attackers, but also the centre. The left wing
runs to take the position of the right wing. The
right wing at the same time drops back a bit,
taking the position of the centre. The centre
moves forward to take the position of the left
attacker. It is important that all the players
involved know what is happening. It is also
important that the attackers and the centre
know what position they play should the
attack fail. Does the centre keep playing left-
forward, or does he or she take on the role of
Figure 27: Rotation centre again? This variation can be used more
than once in a single attack, and the direction
of the rotation can be varied. It is possible to rotate left once, and then rotate right. If all
the players involved are good runners, it is also possible to do two rotation one after the
other. If the players are confident, the play passes whilst rotating, otherwise one of the

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 15


players rotates with the ball. All these should confuse the defence long enough to open up
a little window.
Side Play
This variation involves the players moving
onto one side, making pressure on one side
only. On the other side, there is one attacker
left, running to be in a position to get the
surprise cross. The idea is to move the whole
game onto one side, with a quick cross to the
other side, or even the middle of the field. Like
with other variations, it is important that
after the surprise pass is played, the shot on
the goal is played at once.
The centre moves to the right, whilst the right
defender comes forward for support. The right
attacker, the centre, and the right defender
Figure 28: Side
control the ball in a triangle. The left defender
moves to the centre spot, moving the game further to the right. He or she also keeps an
eye for possible counter-attacks, and is positioned as a centre back, so to speak. The left
attacker moves forth and back to offer him or herself for a surprise cross. The same can
obviously be played mirrored on the other side.
Long Side
This variation involves a swap between the
attacker and defender on one side. The centre
and the players of the other side are not
directly involved. As the left attacker drops
back, the left defender moves forward,
effectively taking on the role of the attacker.
Simply by bringing a fresh face to the attack,
the defence can be confused for a short
moment. This variation is best played when
the ball is controlled by the centre or the
attacker on the right. Obviously, the variation
can also be played on the right. It is important
that the swap of defender and attacker is
Figure 29: Long swift. After a while, the two can swap back
into their original positions.
Side Rotation
The side rotation is a variation that involves a
defender. The defender moves forward, taking
the position of the attacker. The attacker
drops back and moves towards the middle,
taking the position of the centre. The centre,
in turn, drops further back, becoming the
defender, but actively involved in the attack as
a supporter. All the players move at once.
After a while, a second rotation in the same
direction can be used, or alternatively the
players can rotate back into their original
positions. It is important that the players
communicate to avoid confusion. The same
Figure 30: Side Rotation variation can be played on the other side,
mirrored.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 16


Wide Rotation
The wide rotation is yet another rotation. It
does not involve the centre, but again one of
the defenders is actively involved. The
defender on the right moves forward,
becoming the new right forward. At the same
time, the original right attacker runs across
the field, becoming the new left forward. The
left wing, in turn, drops back and moves to the
right, taking on the role of the right defender
at the centre line. The defender position is
active and supporting the attack. This
variation involves a fair bit of running. On the
downside, this tires players more quickly. On
Figure 31: Wide Rotation the upside, because of the large movement
involved, the confusion caused in the defence
may be larger than with smaller rotations. The same variation can be played mirrored on
the other side.
Two Back
This variation involves one of the defenders
very actively. The two attackers stay in
position. The centre drops back a bit, taking
position just left of the centre spot—probably
a bit more forward. The right defender takes
position next to the centre, a bit more to the
right. The left defender moves towards the
middle of the field, effectively becoming a
centre back. This is necessary should a
counter-attack occur. The attackers, the
centre, and the forward-oriented defender can
now play in a similar fashion as is commonly
used for power plays (see page 19). It is
Figure 32: Two Back important that the players involved are
confident passers, and venture a shot from
time to time, when there is a gap opening up.
Diamond
In this variation the centre plays most
forward, right in front of the goal. One of the
defenders moves forward, taking position near
the centre spot, possibly more forward. Just
like in the previous variation, the other
defender needs to become a centre back,
moving towards the centre of the rink. In the
diamond position, the attackers can play to
the centre or to the central defender. The
centre and the defender can pass the ball back
or onwards to the other side. If the opponents
allow, the attackers can pass straight to each
other. After such a pass, a shot on the goal is
Figure 33: Diamond probably the best finish, as a gap should have
opened. The attackers can also shoot on the
goal, and the centre will try to deflect the shot.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 17


Corner to Back
This variation builds on the ability of one of
the attackers to keep the ball under control
even when under pressure. The centre will
need to be able to pass the ball quickly and
precisely, whilst the other attacker will need
to shoot direct. The attacker with the ball
plays near the corner, keeping the ball under
control. He or she needs to watch the other
players. Once the positions are right, the
attacker plays the ball back to the centre who
plays it direct to the second attacker who then
shoots. In order to get into position, the centre
and the second attacker need to run, and stay
Figure 34: Corner to Back away from the defenders. The defenders are
not directly involved in this variation, but
move a bit closer to the middle of the field, to prevent counter-attacks.
The advantage of all variations is that you potentially confuse the opposing defence. This
means that you will have space to shoot, and thus increase the chance of scoring goals.
The potential disadvantage is that you can confuse yourselves, and lose the ball
unnecessarily. It is vital that everyone involved in a variation knows what is going on.
For this reason, it is important for the players to communicate. Use interruptions in the
game to talk to each other, and talk on the substitution bench. Shouting on the rink is in
most cases futile. By the time your team mate knows what to do, the opponents may
know what is going on, too. In this case you lose these vital seconds which open up space.
The variations outlined here are not prescriptive. Their role is best thought of as
inspiration for teams to come up with their own variations. The most effective variations
are those a team can perform well, and those the opponents do not expect. For this reason
knowing and being able to perform a greater number of variations in a game is an
advantage. Often attackers forget that they can play backwards to the defenders who
come forward as a support. However, they need to make sure that the defender is ready
to receive a ball, otherwise a counter-attack is looming.

Goalkeeper
The tactical aspects of a goalkeeper are mostly about keeping the right position, and
moving so as to reduce the angle. The aim is to cover as much of the goal as possible. The
section on goalkeeper skills on page 47 will explore this aspect in more detail.

Substitution
In floorball, the goalkeeper can be substituted at any time. A goalkeeper can not only be
substituted with another goalkeeper, but also with an additional field player. In fact, only
at the very beginning of a floorball game is a team required to have a goalkeeper on the
rink. This opens tactical possibilities.
There is a danger in the substitution process. Like any other player, the goalkeeper needs
to leave the rink without hesitation. Because in practice goalkeepers do not often
substitute, it is worth mentioning this. The field player can only enter the rink once the
goalkeeper has left the rink.
The main benefit of substituting a goalkeeper with an additional field player is
supporting the attack. A floorball goalkeeper does not have a stick, and is unable to score
goals. With an additional field player, a team is normally able to increase the pressure on
the opponent. In practice, goalkeepers are substituted only towards the very end of a
game when the score is a draw or close to a draw. Coaches are more likely to substitute a
goalkeeper when the team is playing a power play, and already putting the opponent

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 18


under pressure. A goalkeeper can be put back on the field at any time, as long as one of
the field players comes off.
The dangers are obviously that a goalkeeper is the only player in a team who can defend
a shot on the goal effectively. For this reason alone, many teams do not substitute their
goalkeepers. Just having one pass intercepted may mean losing a goal, because a field
player is very limited in the ways he or she can stop a shot on the goal. The key to
successful goalkeeper substitutions is good communication, where the goalkeeper knows
when he or she is required to come off the rink. For example, the goalkeeper does not
normally leave the rink until their own team is in possession of the ball. It is also
important to be aware of the fact that a goalkeeper on the substitution bench can be
brought back onto the rink. For this reason, goalkeepers normally are ready to get back
onto the rink at any time if they are substituted with a field player. Substituting a
goalkeeper without having an attack able to put pressure in the power play is probably
futile.

Power Play
A power play occurs if one of the teams can play with superior numbers. This is normally
the case if one or two of the players of the other team were sent off with a bench penalty.
A power play provides an increased opportunity to score. The team playing with fewer
players is said to play a box play.
Attacking
The aim of the power play is the same as attacking in general: create an opportunity to
shoot on the goal. Because the attacking team plays with one more player, they are more
likely to generate such opportunities. The attackers try to play a game of fast and precise
passes, waiting for the defence to become disarranged whilst they adapt their position.
Such a moment is taken to shoot on the goal. Successful power plays are characterized by
patience on behalf of the attacking team: waiting for the opportunities to come. However,
it must be stressed that only by actually shooting goals can be scored. No points are
awarded for nice passes.
The basic formation of a power play involves
all the players, not just the attackers. The
players line up in a U shape, passing the ball
from one position to the other. They take care
that the passes are safe and cannot be
intercepted. As time progresses, the attacking
team try to come closer and closer to the goal.
The passes have to be fast. The centre is often
Figure 35: Beginning a power play involved in the initial build-up (see figure 35),
but then moves into the slot, trying to open up
space, or to deflect shots on the goal (see figure 36).
The attackers can rotate in their positions,
making defending a bit harder still. The
attacking team should not remain static, but
instead keep moving so that the power play
remains dynamic. A static power play is much
easier to defend against. See page 14 for some
general attacking variations. Most of these
can be adapted for power plays. The players
attempt to keep the ball moving at any time
Figure 36: Power play formation with by passing it from one player to the other. A
centre in front of the goal single player keeping the ball under control is
far less effective and easier to defend against. The players playing furthest back should
never attempt to dribble. This is in case they lose the ball. The defending team can then
launch a counter-attack with no defence other than the goalkeeper.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 19


Defending
In case the defending team gains control of the
ball, the attacking team will normally chase
the ball off them. It is important that this
happens in a coordinated manner, and that it
happens in a fair way. Since the defending
team have one player fewer, the attacking
team can have two players getting the ball off
Figure 37: Chasing the ball off an
the player in control of the ball. All the other
opponent when playing in numerical
players need to be marked closely, so that they
superiority
cannot receive a pass. As indicated in figure
37, two players will approach the player in control of the ball at the same time. It is
important that the timing is coordinated; otherwise the player may turn around and
launch a counter-attack. The two players move close to the player in control of the ball,
making sure that there is little room to manoeuvre. Placing the sticks close to the stick of
the defender means that there is no need to commit a foul, since if the space is too small,
the defender will lose control over the ball. Watch out for players trying to quickly turn
around.

Box Play
Defending
The box play is the defence during the power
play of the opposing team. Defending with one
player down is easier than with two players
down, but both cases can be survived without
conceding a goal. The key to success in a box
play is the same as in defending in general:
discipline. Very disciplined zone defending is
essential. You only try to chase the ball if you
are super confident that you can get the ball.
Even in counter attacks, two defenders will
stay back. With two players down, the
situation is no different from the one with one
player down. If anything, even more discipline
is needed, and unnecessary advances are very
Figure 38: Basic box play formation likely to be punished. You should never rely on
the goalkeeper to defend a shot: the goalkeeper is the extra safety you have should the
defence fail.
With weak opponents, some teams are able to play as normal, with one attacker, a centre,
and two defenders. You should never start with such a formation, but with the standard
box play formation. Should it turn out that the opponents are weak, you will eventually
gain possession and be able to play your game.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 20


The overall aim of a box play is to leave no
space for the attackers to shoot on the goal. No
shots means no chances to score. With one or
two players down, defending needs discipline,
and this needs concentration. The general
formation is two defenders back, and two
further field players further in front (see
figure 38). With two players down, the
standard formation is two defenders back, and
the additional field player in front (see figure
39); although depending on the power play,
two players front and one back may be more
appropriate. The players position themselves
Figure 39: Box play with three field so that no direct shots are possible. They
players attempt to intercept passes, if anything at all.
A defender can approach one of the attackers
to put them under pressure (you are looking
for a badly hit pass that can be intercepted),
but should always bear in mind the gap left
behind (see figure 40). In many cases, a
successful box play involves keeping the
nerves and waiting for the attacker to lose the
ball.

Figure 40: Putting attack under


pressure

Counter-Attacks
If a defender manages to get hold of the
ball, he or she has two options. Either a
counter-attack is launched, or the player
attempts to keep the ball under control.
Some players also choose to simply hit the
ball towards the other goal. The choice
will depend on the position on the rink,
the player’s abilities, and the score of the
game. The decision to keep the ball is
Figure 41: Counter attack often a mere delaying tactic, waiting for
the bench penalty to expire. Because the team are one or two players down, it may be
difficult to keep the ball, so one of the other players may want to assist the player in
control of the ball: offering a possibility to pass the ball. In any case the defending team
should take great care not to leave the goal completely undefended.
A counter-attacker needs to be swift and determined. At least one person needs to stay
behind in order to defend. The player or players involved in the counter-attack usually
seek the centre of the rink, from where it is easier to shoot (see figure 41: 1). Rather than
getting involved with any other players, the choice is often to shoot (2). Obviously it is
easier to score when closer to the goal, but most players choose to shoot just before the
first opponent catches up with them—in time to shoot freely. Once the counter-attack is
over, the players should move back into formation at once. It does not matter if the
opponents start to build up the power play in their own half, because the aim of the box
play is to close down space.
Sometimes it happens that the attacking team losing the ball in a power play focus on the
player with the ball only, during a counter attack. The player with the ball, launching the
counter-attack should take a quick look to see whether one of their team mates is running

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 21


in parallel. If there is a team mate running in support, a pass across can be very
dangerous (i.e. a good chance for scoring).

Free-Hit
A free-hit is a fixed situation, where a team is given the opportunity to play without any
opponents closer than 3 metres. With this gained space, a number of possibilities open up
for the team. The fact that the ball is still when the free-hit is carried out means that the
team get a chance to organize themselves. This means, however, that the players need to
communicate with one another, so that everyone in the team knows what is happening.
In some cases, the defenders are not involved in a free-hit, but even then it is a good idea
for them to know what is going on. This allows them to position themselves in a strategic
place, maybe going for a second shot.
A free-hit may be carried out immediately, and this option needs to be borne in mind. A
quick free-hit can unsettle a defence, but unless the attackers involved know what they
want to do with the ball, it may also be a lost opportunity. For this reason, some teams
use short names or even numbers to communicate common free-hit variations. This way
they can communicate quickly. An additional benefit is that the opponent may not know
what is coming up, especially if these codes are communicated non-verbally. This only
works, however, if all the players involved know the code.
Correct Free-Hit
To start with, the ball is not moving, although
slight movement may be tolerated if the game
is not influenced. A correct free-hit is hit
cleanly. This means that the ball cannot be
dragged, flicked, or lifted on the stick. This
means, for example, that a wrist shot is not
allowed, or an airhook cannot be carried out
from a free-hit. It is a free hit after all. The
player carrying out the free-hit cannot play
the ball a second time before another player
has touched the ball. If a free-hit is carried out
Figure 42: Three-metre rule at free-hits incorrectly, the free-hit is awarded to the other
and hit-ins: All players of the opposing team. One way to avoid the limitations is by
team (in black) need to be at least three having two people where the ball is played.
metres away before the ball is played. One of the players hits the ball cleanly but
very softly. The ball moves very little, and the ball can now be played as in open play.
However, as soon as the ball is touched for the first time, the defenders can move closer:
the 3 metres distance is no longer required (2 metres on a small rink). Figure 42
illustrates the three metre distance required at a free-hit. Only players of the same team
are allowed within this imaginary circle. The distance includes sticks.
As a general rule, a free-hit is carried out at the place of the offence. There are two
exceptions to this rule. Firstly, no free-hits are carried out behind the extended goal lines.
If an offence is committed behind the goals, the free-hit is instead carried out at the
nearest face-off spot in one of the corners. This exception is necessary to keep the game
moving. Secondly, no free-hits are carried out closer than 3.5 metres to the goalkeeper
area. This exception is necessary so that the defending team have the possibility to build
a defensive wall in every case. There are only 50 cm for the defenders to build a wall.
Building a Defensive Wall
The advantage gained with a free-hit is usually countered by building a defensive wall.
Most teams build a wall whenever there is a free-hit, but vary the position and number of
players according to the place of the free-hit. Other teams only build defensive walls in
their own half. The aim of a defensive wall is to prevent a direct shot on the goal.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 22


There are no special provisions for building a
4 wall, and the usual rules regarding hand
balls, or playing on the floor apply. A player is
allowed to put one knee on the floor, but not
both. A player is not allowed to actively stop
the ball with his or her hands or head. The
3 players are allowed to put their stick onto the
1
2 floor, but only the stick hand is allowed to
touch the floor: that is the hand placed at the
Figure 43: Kneeling as a defensive wall end of the shaft.
Figure 43 illustrates how defenders commonly kneel down when forming a defensive
wall. The stick is kept on the floor (1), possibly even closer to the ground than shown
here. The aim is to intercept low passes past the wall. There will be a little gap between
the legs (2), and players are not allowed to put their hand to cover the area. The reason is
simply if they get hit on their hand, they are sent off (hands). The players often kneel (3)
in order to maximize the area covered by their body. The upper body is kept straight for
the same reason (4). When kneeling in a defensive wall, a defender generally faces the
middle of the rink; that is the head is orientated towards the imaginary line that divides
the rink into halves along its length. The reason for this is really to maximize the area of
view covered. Where there are two, or even three, defenders kneeling in a wall, they all
face in the same direction. The players further behind place themselves so as to reduce
the possibility for a shot to go through the wall.
A defensive wall is
built with the aim of
covering as much
space as possible.
When the free-hit is
near their own goal,
then the largest
area can be covered
when kneeling.
When the free-hit is
far from their own
goal, a wall
kneeling is not
Figure 44: Different kinds of defensive walls in different areas of effective, as the at-
the rink. tackers can simply
shoot over it. A wall
may include one, two, or even three players. The number of players in the wall is
dependent on the place of the free-hit, how the attackers position themselves, and usually
what the goalkeepers feel comfortable with. However, the speed of floorball means that
there is usually not enough time for the goalkeepers to ask for an additional player in the
wall, and desires need to be made clear before games. A general guide is included in
Figure 44. In zone A, near the opponent’s goal, only one player forms the defensive wall.
He or she will be standing. Very close to the opponent’s goal, players often just stand
roughly in front of the free-hit, since any direct shot is unlikely to be dangerous. In zones
B, one player forms the wall, kneeling and facing the middle of the rink. In zone C, two
players kneeling form the wall, both facing the middle of the rink. There is a combination
which you also might want to consider, where one player stands and the other kneels.
The advantage of this combination is that the player not kneeling is quicker to run into a
different position.
For free-hits in the corner (B), generally one player is placed kneeling. The aim here is
not primarily to prevent direct shots, but to prevent passes into the slot. The player will
face the other goal, with their back towards the short side of the rink where the free-hit is
being played from.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 23


Walls with more than two players are rare. A player kneeling can face either left or right.
Normally, the players position themselves in a way that they face the middle of the field,
facing away from the board. Where there are two players, it is essential that they face the
same direction. Otherwise, they may leave a bit of a gap in the middle of the wall,
rendering the defensive wall rather useless. When there are two defenders on a defensive
wall, sometimes one of the two will run towards the ball as soon as it is played, putting
the attackers under pressure. This can be effective when the attackers are generally slow
in carrying out their free-hits.
The attacking team are allowed to put players in front of the defensive wall. They are not,
however, allowed to prevent the defending team from building a wall. The usual rules of
obstruction, holding, and pushing apply during a free-hit.
Beating a Defensive Wall: Basic Free-Hit
As an attacker, a defensive wall is
inconvenient. A good wall means that the
attackers no longer can shoot direct. For that
reason, the attackers will try to play around
the wall somehow. The good news is that the 3
metres distance gives enough time and space
to do just that; provided the free-hit is carried
out quickly. The basic movement is a quick
and precise pass to either side of the place
where the free-hit is carried out, and the shot
is taken from there. If the free-hit is taken
from near the board, the shot is usually more
successful from the side towards the middle of
Figure 45: Basic pass to beat a the rink. However, the surprise element in
defensive wall choosing the other side may be successful to
catch out the defenders from time to time.
Variations
The defenders will be aware of the basic way to pass around the wall and possibly have
another player nearby, to prevent the shot if possible. The way to solve this is to bring
more variation into the free-hits. For example, even though shooting from further out—
rather than the middle of the rink—is more difficult, doing so from time to time will mean
that the defenders no longer know which way the attackers play. There are a number of
free-hit variations, and it is essential that everyone involved knows which one is being
played. There is usually no time to play it slowly, or change one’s mind.
One variation consists of a pass to the second
player, who plays it straight back. The player
who actually carried out the free-hit can then
shoot. The passes need to be fast and precise.
In most cases the defensive wall will have
moved a bit by the time of the second pass,
and there is a little gap to shoot. A wall
patient enough to wait will be effective against
this variation. This variation is therefore most
effective against a wall that is not very good,
such as one where there is already a little gap
(which is likely to grow with the passes), or
where one of the defenders is known to run
Figure 46: Playing back to beat the towards the attackers. Attackers often choose
wall. this variation when they observe that the
defenders are impatient and tend to run
forwards as soon as the ball is played.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 24


Another variation consists of passes in a
triangle. The first pass is to the side, the
second pass to the back. It is the third player
to shoot. It is vital in this case that the player
who is to shoot is prepared, because the extra
pass involved means that there is more time
for the defenders to close in. The fact that the
ball is actually played back a little bit in this
variation means that a bit of extra time is
gained. The player executing the free-hit may
also do a fake, pretending to pass the ball to
the player at the back first.

Figure 47: Triangle


A variation that often catches out defenders
eager to run towards the ball is a shift. For
this variation, two players start in a position
as if playing the standard free-hit. However,
rather than taking the free-hit as probably
expected, both players shift sideward. The
player previously in the position to shoot (1)
now actually plays the free-hit (2); the player
previously in the position to pass the ball (2) is
the one who shoots (3). This variation is
effective particularly where time was stopped
because of an event, and the whistle is blown
to bring the ball back into play. Defenders are
frequently caught out, running towards the
Figure 48: Sideward Move ball when the players shift, and therefore
before the ball was actually played. However, this variation is most successful if the
attackers can count on the referees to see the violation of the three-metre rule. The
variation also works in other cases, particularly where the defenders aware of their
mistake to run forward too early quickly retreat, often leaving the attackers a poorly
organized defensive wall.
For players able to play fast and precise
passes, there is a variation where the
attacking team place one of their own players
in front of the defensive wall. This as such is
not very unusual, but this time the player is
actively involved in taking the free-hit. The
player in front of the wall needs to stand at
least half a metre away from the wall. The
free-hit is played straight to the player in
front of the defensive wall. This is usually an
incentive for the players in the wall to move.
The ball, however, is played back to the player
taking the free-hit, and the actual shot takes
place from there. As with any other free-hit, it
Figure 49: Player in front of defensive helps to have one or two other players from
wall for free-hit the attacking team in position where they
could shoot, too. This means that the defending team are unsure how the free-hit will
actually be taken.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 25


Teams eager to confuse the defence may make
use of the following variation. Three players
line up. One of them stands where the ball is
played, the others both relatively close, so that
they can shoot direct. The free-hit is taken, by
hitting a clean pass towards the closer of the
two players. This players then either shoots
(making this the standard free-hit), or lets the
ball pass between the legs to the third player,
who then shoots. To add confusion, the first
player may fake a shot when letting the ball
pass. Similarly, the third player may fake a
shot when the second player does not let the
ball pass. In either case, all players involved
Figure 50: Letting pass need to know which version is played, because
there is not much time for the players themselves to actually observe what is going on.
Having moved to the art of concealing links
well to the next variation: hiding the free-hit.
The easiest way to hide a free-hit is by
kneeling in front of the ball, in a similar
position as the defenders in the wall. Players
may also choose to stand with the legs closed.
There are two attackers ready to shoot, one on
either side. The player executing the free-hit
conceals the ball, and plays the ball in one
direction. A fake movement (or two) may add
further confusion. Both players move as to
shoot, although only one will have the ball to
actually shoot on the goal.

Figure 51: Concealment


Alternatively, with the same formation, a
quite different free-hit can be played. The
three players begin in the same positions as
outlined in the previous variation. Now, rather
than playing the free-hit, the player near the
ball is merely pretending. The player on the
left (or the right) moves to the ball, as if to do
a shift. It is the player who has run to the ball
who touches the ball, and the player hiding
the ball quickly shoots using a spin shot. This
variation is effective if the wall is not
positioned very well. Good spin shots are
essential. Make sure the player doing the spin
shot can shoot forehand.
Figure 52: Concealment with spin shot

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 26


A spin shot is also involved in the next
variation. There are two players near the ball,
together concealing the view on the ball. Both
of them face away from the goal they shoot on.
One of the players touches the ball, the other
one actually shoots. Both players move as if
they were doing a spin shot: one as a fake, the
other as the real thing. This variation is
effective where the wall is not placed very
well, and may confuse the goalkeepers a great
deal. This variation is more effective and also
more credible where one of the players shoots
right, and the other one shoots left. As an
alternative, a third player may be placed
Figure 53: Double spin immediately behind the two players near the
ball. Both players may choose to do a fake, in which case the third player shoots direct.
An additional player may also be placed on the left or right of the free-hit, as if to pass
the ball there to shoot (standard free-hit). The idea is really that the opponents do not
know what is going to happen.
Having covered a few free-hit variations, it remains to emphasize that simple is often
best. Surely the attackers want to confuse the defence, but they should never attempt a
free-hit so complicated that their own team mates are confused. That is what training
sessions are for, though. Taking a free-hit quickly is often a good idea, and there is
nothing wrong with shooting direct if no good wall is ready. There are also more advanced
variations, involving the airhook trick, lifting the ball over the wall, or involving the
board where the free-hit is near the side of the rink.
Free-Hit in the Corner
A free-hit in the corner (on one of the face-off
dots) is a different challenge from free-hits in
other places. The aim needs to be to get out of
the corner, preferably into the slot. A simple
and effective way is to have a few players in
the slot, moving around. A fast pass is then
played into the slot, where the players try to
deflect the ball into the goal. This only works
where there is no good defensive wall present.
If there is a defensive wall present, the basic
trick is to play a short but fast pass along the
side of the rink, and pass it into the slot from
there.

Figure 54: Basic free-hit from the


corner

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 27


Many defenders are aware of this, and
alternatives need to be considered. One is not
to have a supporting player near the player
taking the free-hit to start with, but let one of
the players run from inside the slot towards
the face-off dot. The pass is played to the
running player, who passes is straight on into
the slot. The player runs from a position
where the ball cannot be passed easily (1) to
one similar to that of the supporting player in
the previous version (2). The difference is that
the running player is further inside the rink.
The pass must be fast and direct.
Figure 55: Alternative with running
Alternatively, one of the attackers may offer
him or herself behind the goal. The pass can
be played direct, or via the board. The player
behind the goal does not keep the ball, but
passes it straight into the slot, passing the ball
near the goal. This variation is effective, but it
is possible that the ball gets intercepted before
it reaches the ball; or that there are too many
feet just in front of the goal, so that the ball
actually never reaches the goal. What is
essential are fast and precise passes. The pass
off the board is usually safer, but it is also
slower.

Figure 56: Alternative behind the goal


A less common but highly effective alternative
involves two attackers taking the free-hit in
the corner. It is often the centre and one of the
attackers, but one of the defenders can be
involved, too. This is the case, because the
players will end up relatively close to the
centre line as part of the free-hit, so there will
be no major gap, should the free-hit fail. The
two players start where the ball is, and one of
the two hits the ball softly. The other one
starts running with the ball, shielding it well
from the other players. The second player runs
next to the player with the ball. There are now
two possibilities to complete the free-hit. In
Figure 57: Double run alternative the first, the player running without the ball
slows down a little, and the player with the ball shoots. A spin shot is usually the choice.
This free-hit needs training, because the timing is essential.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 28


In the second possibility, the player without
the ball might slow down a bit, but it is
equally possible for the player with the ball to
speed up for two or three step. At this
moment, the ball is passed to the other player
who shoots direct, using a spin shot. Again,
timing is essential, and the free-hit needs to
be practised. It is important that the two
players involved know which of the two
possibilities they are playing.
The most common way to get out of the corner
is probably a pass along the side of the rink,
similar to what is illustrated in figure 14
Figure 58: Double run with spin shot above, with the key difference that a finish on
alternative the goal is not attempted. Trying to build up
an attack this way is not necessarily a waste;
as the actual choice of free-hit will depend to a large degree on the skills of the players as
well as how well the opponents defend.

Hit-In
A hit-in is tactically essentially the same as a
free-hit. The rules are practically the same,
with a 3 metre distance imposed on the
opponents. A hit-in is taken at the place where
the ball left the rink, but never further away
than 1.5 metres from the board. A ball leaving
the rink behind the goals leads to a hit-in on
the nearest face-off dot. The only difference is
that the board is always close by, offering
another possibility to play the ball. A hit-in
may lead to a goal. Figure 59 illustrates the 3
metres distance that needs to be kept, as well
as the 1.5 metres distance to the board. A free-
hit may be played closer than 1.5 metres to
the board. On the small rink, the distances are
Figure 59: A hit-in is essentially a free-
2 metres and 1 metre respectively.
hit along the side of the rink
Face-Off
A face-off is played at the beginning of a game, when play is resumed after an
intermission or a goal, or in certain circumstances when no free-hit can be awarded. To
begin or resume play as described above, a face-off is played at the centre spot. For all
other cases, a face-off is played at the nearest face-off dot—but never at the centre spot.
There are six face-off dots, one in each corner, and two on the centre line. When the face-
off is played at the centre spot—to begin or resume a game—all the players of a team
need to be in their own half. For a face-off during play, there is no such rule.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 29


Correct Face-Off
In either case, a face-off is taken by one player
from each team. All the other players need to
be at least 3 metres distance (2 metres on the
small rink). Players too close may be penalized
with a 2 minute bench penalty: just as it is the
case with free-hits and hit-ins. The players
stand on their own side of the rink, with both
feet firmly on the ground. The ball is placed on
the face-off dot and does not move. Both
players place their blades on the floor, close to
the ball, but not touching it. The blades are at
Figure 60: Correct face-off a right angle to the centre-line and thus
parallel to each other. If the face-off is on the
centre line, the player of the visiting team places the stick first. If the face-off is in any of
the corners, the player of the defending team places the stick first. These rules are
necessary, because not every player shoots on the same side, and taking a face-off
forehand is normally an advantage. Both players hold their stick with a normal grip. The
feet are placed parallel to the centre line. With both players in position, one of the
referees blows the whistle, and play begins.
Should one or both of the players not follow the instructions of the referees with regards
to positioning themselves or their blades correctly, the referees may ask for a
replacement. This means that any other player already on the rink is asked to take the
face-off—and it is the team who decide who this other person is. The correct positioning,
as outlined in figure 60 is important to give both players a fair chance.
Positions at Face-Off
The players not taking the face-off may position themselves anywhere on the rink,
provided they are more than 3 metres away from the face-off dot. For the face-off
beginning a game, or after a goal, the players may stand anywhere as long as they are in
their own half and at least 3 metres away. Tactically speaking, the players should try to
choose a position that gives them an advantage.
When the face-off is taken at the centre, the attackers may choose to stand right on the
centre line, ready to press forward. The defenders probably want to stay behind to receive
the ball if the face-off is successful, but also because a face-off may lead to a goal.
Sometimes one of the attacker stands fairly close to the face-off (keeping the 3 metres
distance) so that he or she can assist, should the face-off not lead to a clear winner.
Sometimes the ball rolls back slowly when a face-off is won, and the attackers may
intercept the ball before it reaches the defender on the other side. The defenders probably
do not want to stand near the board, or at least not both of them: the ball is likely to roll
back towards the goal.
When the face-off is taken elsewhere, the players may choose any position advantageous
to them. This means, for example, that they are free to stand 3 metres behind the
opponent taking the face-off. The attackers will think about how to play the ball into the
slot, the defenders how to keep the ball out of this dangerous zone. It is important to
consider the possibility that the other player may win the face-off, too. When a face-off is
taken near the board on the centre line, but not on the centre spot (relatively rare), the
players not taking the face-off need not be in their own halves. In some cases, the player
taking such a face-off deliberately ‘loses’ the face-off so that the ball is played forward
towards their own attack.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 30


Winning a Face-Off
To win a face-off, it is important to be focused. Once the whistle
goes, there is little time to think, and it is best to know how you
want to take the face-off before you place the stick—or at least
before the referees whistle. Trying to adjust the face-off according
to what the opponent does is difficult, because normally there is
just not enough time. The standard face-off is an attempt by both
Figure 61: You have
players to play the ball backwards into their own half of the rink,
to want to win the
passing the ball between the legs. This is achieved with a quick
face-off to win it
turn of the stick: turning the stick and moving it backwards. If
your reaction is faster than that of the opponent, the ball should roll back into your own
half. It is often the case that the ball gets deflected, so the other players need to be ready
for the ball going in any direction.
Without determination to win a face-off, a player is usually too slow. If playing the face-
off with the forehand, it suffices to turn the stick and try to pull it backwards a bit. It can
happen that both players turn their stick in the same way and at the same time.
Sometimes the ball then gets stuck between the blades. In this case, you should try to
move your body so that you can press harder with the stick. A very short forward
movement may help, but it may also mean that you lose the face-off.
Taking the face-off with the backhand is more difficult, but by no means impossible. As
with the forehand, speed is king. You may again simply turn the blade and pull the stick
back a bit. Often it helps to move the stick forward slightly, just as the whistle goes, and
then turn the stick. The movement of the blade in this case is illustrated in figure 62. The
weight of the body is concentrated on the toes, but both feet are flat on the floor.
1 2 3 4

Figure 62: Backhand face-off by pushing the blade forward first before pulling it
backwards
There are alternative ways to take a face-off. You may try to play sideways to one of the
attackers rather than backwards. To achieve this, you need to press the ball strongly. The
blade is turned a little bit, to counter the movement of the opponent who is likely to try to
pass the ball backwards. It is important to push the ball, and not hit it, as you may
ending up hitting your opponent’s stick—a foul play. Figure 63 illustrates this variation.

1 2 3

Figure 63: Face-off by playing sideward. The movement needs to be fast and strong
Players who are very fast may try to skip. That is rather than playing the ball directly,
they lift the blade and move it over the ball, place it on the side where the opponent has
his or her stick, and then move it in the opposite direction. Figure 64 illustrates this
move. If a skip succeeds, there is little for the opponent to do, and the player taking the
face-off often ends up with control over the ball. Care must be taken not to hit the stick or

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 31


blade of the opponent when attempting a skip. Under no circumstance are you allowed to
hit the stick of your opponent or to push it away, to achieve a skip: all you are allowed is
sheer speed.
1 2 3

Figure 64: Skipping at the face-off


The rules do not stipulate in what direction the ball needs to be played at a face-off. This
means that the player taking the face-off may actually try to play the ball forward. In
many cases, such a move means that both players want to play the ball in the same
direction. For this reason, a player wanting to play the face-off forward may actually
choose not to do anything. The problem with not doing anything is that the opponent may
play the ball quickly and precisely—maybe straight to one of his or her team mates.
Playing forward can be successful in a number of cases. If the face-off takes place at the
centre spot, and the opponent’s defenders stand fairly far behind, an attacker may try to
play the face-off forward and shoot a goal straight away. If the face-off takes place on the
centre line but near the board, a team may want to attack, and thus want the ball in the
opponent’s half. This of course requires having an attacker in front of the player taking
the face-off. Finally, the same may be the case in one of the corners. An attacking team
may want to play behind the goal; or a defending team may want to launch a counter
attack.
Rules during Face-Off
Normal floorball rules apply during a face-off. This in particular means that hitting the
stick of an opponent is not an option, nor is pushing. The correct positions should be
respected, as they give both players a fair chance. Taking the face-off with the stick
placed far away from the ball is not allowed, although it might me a ‘successful’ method.
The reason is that a payer doing so is likely to end up hitting the stick of the opponent in
an uncontrolled manner. A face-off may lead to a goal.

Penalty Shot
Penalty Shot as a Player
A penalty shot is carried out by a single player, starting from the centre spot. The ball
needs to be in constant forward movement, and may be hit as many times as the player
wants. Only one shot is allowed. If the ball bounces off the bar or goalposts and then ends
up in the goal, the goal counts. This is the case even where the ball bounces off the goal
and hits the back of the goalkeeper and then ends up in the goal. A second shot is never
allowed. Apart from the restriction that the ball needs to be in a forward movement, a
penalty shot is a one on one attack, with only the goalkeeper defending. There is no time
limit.
A player may choose to shoot, or to trick the goalkeeper and score from a short distance.
There are two approaches: knowing what you want to do, and looking for the goalkeeper
to make a mistake and then exploit it. The second approach may be more difficult, given
that many goalkeepers wait for the players to make the first move. The key to success is a
quick and decisive move to finish, surprise being the key element.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 32


Penalty Shot as a Goalkeeper
A goalkeeper defending a penalty shot starts
on the goal line, but is free to defend
normally. Like during normal play, a
goalkeeper is allowed to leave the goal crease,
but he or she then counts as a field player
without a stick. Tactically, there are two
approaches, trying to chase the ball off the
attacker, or waiting for the attacker to move
first. Many goalkeepers choose the latter; but
unpredictability is probably the key to
success. If a goalkeeper moves, he or she is
most successful if this is determined and
decisive. Many players get nervous if a
Figure 65: Reducing angle goalkeeper stays put, especially those who
have not made up their mind yet. In any
case, goalkeepers move forward a little bit when the penalty starts, so as to reduce the
angle (see figure 65).

Skills
The previous section on tactics was about how players act together, how their game
involves each other. This section is on skill: on the ability of individual players. As
players skills improve, more tactical formations become viable. For example, a player who
is able to shield the ball well will be able to play variations that involve keeping the ball
whilst under pressure.
Many skills involve ball handling, the feeling of where the ball is (even if the player
cannot actually see it), and being able to control the ball. A good way to improve general
ball skills is to play on as many different surfaces as possible. The reason for this is that
different surfaces come with different friction, and with that you will learn to control the
ball in slightly different environments. What is more, if you play in a competitive league,
other halls will probably have slightly or very different surfacing than the one you know
best. Being able to play your tricks on all surfaces is obviously a great advantage.
Whilst playing on different surfaces is generally a good idea, there are limits to this
advice. Playing on grass may be convenient as you can play in your garden. Playing on a
car park may seem equally convenient, but the surface is not suited. Road surfaces are all
very rough (compared to sport halls), and the blades wear very quickly. You will not only
have to replace the blade very often, but you also end up with a blade that is rough at the
bottom, making playing in the hall a different experience.
When choosing tactical moves, players are generally well advised to keep to simple moves.
It is the simple moves that often work best because there is less that can go wrong. If a
move involves 10 passes, there are 10 possibilities of something going wrong…

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 33


Running with the Ball
1 Running with the ball is a basic skill. The ball
is kept in front of the players, possibly slightly
to the side. The blade should touch the blade
all the time, or at least be very close. It is a
soft touch, not a strong hit. A soft touch is
necessary so that the ball does not bounce in
an uncontrolled manner. This way, the ball is
played forward, ahead of the player. The
2 player then catches up with the ball and hits
it again. The ball hits the blade in the middle
of the blade. This kind of running is fairly
easy, but it is relatively easy for the defender
to intercept the ball. Advanced players
probably use this move most often when
simply outrunning an opponent.
Some players find it easier to keep the ball
Figure 66: Keeping the ball between between the forehand and the backhand (see
forehand and backhand figure 66). The ball is kept in the centre part
of the blade, and players try to constantly touch the ball or be very close to it. In fact,
many players probably use a mixture of the two approaches, running with the ball right
on the blade, and at times using the backhand to control the movement of the ball. The
use of the forehand and backhand requires a bit more skill, but it means that the player
is freer to move either left or right. In fact, this way sudden changes of direction are
relatively easy, especially if the ball is played further towards the back of the blade
(where the shaft is attached).
An alternative is the use of the forehand in a
semi-circular way. The ball is played on the
forehand only, kept under control with the tip
and back of the blade. Figure 67 illustrates
1 this. The ball is moving forth and back, and
the player can feel the ball on the blade. This
alternative is more difficult than the use of the
forehand and backhand. The ball is played
forward with the back to middle of the blade
(1). The movement is more sideward than
forward (2). Once the ball has reached 30 to 40
2
cm on one side, the tip of the blade is used to
draw the ball backwards again (3). As the ball
is drawn backwards, the blade is turned, so
that when the ball is furthest back, it is ready
to push the ball forwards again.
The ball constantly touches the blade. The
3 move depends on the movement of the blade,
Figure 67: Keeping the ball on the but depending on the hook of the blade, this
forehand way of keeping the ball under control can be
made much easier. Nonetheless, even with a
large hook, skill is needed to synchronize the movement of the blade with that of the ball.
Many players find this means of ball control difficult to maintain for a prolonged period of
time. The key advantage is that there is little scope for the defender to intercept the ball,
as the blade protects the ball from the side the defender is likely to approach. Swift
changes of direction are possible with this approach, too.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 34


Shielding the Ball

2
1 3
Figure 68: Shielding the ball
Running with the ball as outlined just above is basic, but leaves the player with the ball
vulnerable. It is not too difficult for a defender to nick the ball, or cause the attacker to
lose the ball. The solution is shielding the ball with the body. Figure 68 illustrates this.
The feet are positioned relatively wide, whilst their back is turned towards the opponent
the attacker then moves past the defender whilst constantly shielding the ball with their
body. The position will need to be adjusted dynamically according to the movements of
the opponents. The head should be kept up, so the player can see what is going on
elsewhere on the rink. Keeping the ball between the forehand and the backhand can be
useful in this case, as the player can feel where the ball is. In any case, the ball needs to
be controlled well, leaving no possibility for the defender to intercept an unprotected ball.
There are a number of things to consider when shielding the ball. The player is allowed to
stand with their feet very wide apart. This is useful since the opponents are not allowed
to place their sticks between the legs of the attacker. However, some players use their
legs to kick the sticks of opponents when shielding the ball. Such kicking is not allowed.
Similarly, the attackers are not allowed to run backwards into an opponent when they
are controlling the ball: they need to run sideward. It is OK to run backwards up to the
moment when the opponent is touched. Any further movement backwards is an offence.
Shielding the ball is an important skill in
floorball. The aim is to put your own body in
2 between the ball and the opponent. As visible
1
in figure 69, the feet are kept relatively far
from each other, making it more difficult for
the opponents to reach around your legs. The
ball should be kept on the other side from
where the opponent’s blade is. The ball is kept
Figure 69: Shielding the ball: the body close to the blade at all times. The head is
is placed between the ball and the kept up as much as possible to look around
opponent and seek passing opportunities. Obviously, the
sticks of the opponents also need to be
watched, as the position is adjusted. In figure 69, the attacker in black will want to move
the ball towards the right-hand side (1) in order to keep the ball away from the defender’s
stick. At the same time, the attacker will want to turn towards the right in order to have
the body placed between the defender and the ball (2). By so doing, the defender loses the
possibility of reaching the ball.
Whilst shielding is allowed and encouraged, you are not allowed to run backwards into an
opponent when controlling the ball. This is easier said than done, especially when
shielding a great deal. As soon as you touch the opponent, no further backward
movement is allowed. Similarly, it is not permitted to shield the ball and run along the
board with the ball pressed against the board where the opponents have no possibility to
reach the ball fairly. Some players use their legs to kick the sticks of the opponents when
shielding. The rules are clear that such kicking is not allowed. You can position yourself
in a way that reaching the ball is difficult—by having the feet wide apart—but kicking is
not allowed. Having the feet apart is useful, as the opponents are not allowed to play
between your feet.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 35


Control
Ball control is essential when keeping the ball: that is when you have received a pass and
decide against playing it on straight away. It might be that you want to wait for the other
players in your team to run into a better position, or that you want to try a trick to get
past an opponent. Controlling the ball is an essential skill in floorball, and achieved by
keeping the ball close to the blade. Ideally, the ball should touch the blade most of the
time. If the ball touches the blade, not only can the ball be played immediately, but also
you can literally feel the ball.
The ball can be controlled with the forehand of the blade only, or by using both the
forehand and the backhand of the blade. Using both sides of the blade is usually easier,
especially if you run or walk at the same time. This way, the ball is kept on the forehand
of the blade, played slightly forward. Within about 20 to 30 cm, you change back to the
backhand. Essentially, the blade is lifted over the ball, and the ball is played backwards a
little bit, until the same procedure is repeated the other way. This movement can be slow
where the player is not under pressure. Where the player is under pressure, the
movement is much faster, because a faster moving ball is more difficult to intercept. The
ball needs to be kept in constant motion to deny the opponent any chance of a steal. The
ball can be kept to the side of the body, or in front of it. Using slightly larger movements
to one side, it is possible to quickly change position.
Without Ball
There are many options to try and get past a defender. One is running without having the
ball right on the blade. It is faster than running with the ball, but not usually
recommended, because the ball can be lost easily. There are moments, however, when a
player wants to run very fast whilst more or less controlling the ball—such as during a
counter attacker. In this case, the ball is hit harder, and controlled only every few metres.
The ball should in this case always be played so that the opponents cannot intercept it.
Another application is the case where a player wishes to outrun an opposing player. The
ball is then played on one side, making sure the opponent cannot intercept the ball, and a
short sprint follows to regain proper control of the ball. A fake may also be useful in this
case.
Dribbling with the Ball
The basics of dribbling with the ball are the same as running with the ball, as previously
outlined. The difference is that when dribbling with the ball, you want to do something
else other than just run with the ball. Players need to be active and quick. To achieve
this, their body weight is moved towards the front of the feet, and their mind is actively
considering all options available. The ball is kept on the blade or very close to it. It is
normally kept towards the middle of the blade, where it is often easiest to control the ball
forehand. When playing the ball alternatively forehand and backhand, the ball is kept
more towards the middle or back of the blade.
The aim of dribbling with the ball is to get past an opponent. There are a number of
possibilities, and the most successful one will depend on your individual skills, but also
on the position and movements of the opponent. Because the ball is to be played quickly,
it is often kept in front of the body; but dribbling is also possible when starting with a
shielded ball. The ball in front is easier and quicker to play, but it is also easier to lose
the ball in such a position.
One possibility is to play the ball between the legs of the opponent. After the ball is
played, you will have to run past the opponent. This should be possible because running
forward is easier that running backwards or turning round. However, you will need to
make sure that the opponent does not close the tunnel when you play it. Some defenders
deliberately stand in a position to invite you to try to play the ball between their legs, just
to close it and intercept the ball. Furthermore, the ball needs to be played at the right
speed: too fast and another defender will intercept the ball; too slow and the opponent can
catch the ball.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 36


Another possibility is to play around the opponent. For this, proper shielding is essential.
You should keep up your speed as much as possible, but never use a body-check or similar
push to get around the opponent. By placing your body in between the ball and the
opponent, it is difficult for the opponent to intercept a ball. The opponents may place
themselves in a way so that you cannot turn back to the forehand easily. In such a case,
you need to be able to turn around the other way, using the backhand. A defender will
quickly learn if you always try to get past on the forehand side, and subsequently focus
on that side.
Even simpler is the alternative of running faster than the opponent. This trick only
works if you have enough space to gain speed, and also enough space to run past the
opponent. This is most often the case somewhere in the middle of the rink. Shielding the
ball makes this alternative more successful, but the key to success is speed—combined
with the ability to see the free spaces where to run. The ball is therefore shielded much
less than in the previous alternative.
A successful alternative is often where the ball is played past the opponent on one side,
and the player runs past the opponent on their other side. To make this trick work, it
needs to be played relatively quickly. What is more, the first move is with the body,
towards the direction you are going to run. After the first step in this direction, the
opponent is likely to react, so that you cannot simply run past. At this very moment, the
ball is passed on the other side of the opponent. Great care needs to be taken not to play
into the stick or feet of the opponent. With the ball and player doing different things,
most defenders are unsettled for a short while. The pass must be fast enough to get past
the opponent, but not too fast so that it is lost to another player.
Because many defenders keep their stick low to intercept passes, the above alternative is
sometimes played with a pass that is played above the stick, maybe half knee height. It
helps to let the ball roll onto the blade before playing the pass. This is the case, because
when the ball is on the blade, it is difficult to predict which way it will be played. The
pass is then played from a point maybe 10 or 20 cm high. The completion of this variation
is the same as in the previous alternative.
When dribbling near the side of the rink, or when doing so behind the goal, players
should not forget the possibility to play off the board. In a way, this alternative is similar
to the previous two, in that the ball and player pass the opponent on different sides.
However, by using the board, the attacker can play a safer angle—more difficult for the
defender to intercept. The player starts running on the side where there is no board. As
the first step is done in this direction, the ball is played off the board and received behind
the opponent. Knowing the boards helps in playing the pass with the right speed and at
the right angle, because not all boards react the same way.
If the two dimensions on the floor seem restricting, an alternative is to play the ball over
the opponent. Often this is done by first lifting the ball on the blade, in the same fashion
as the pass just over the stick. This not only makes the pass over the opponent easier, but
also the defender does not know what is going to happen. The ball needs to be passed
fairly straight and just high enough to pass over the defender. Rather than playing over
the head, it is obviously easier to pass the ball over the shoulders, or even less high quite
close to the opponent. The difficulty with passing the ball over the opponent is taking
control of the ball afterwards.
Some players shield the ball before the ball is played over the opponent. To carry this out,
they push out their back and lower their upper body. The ball is lifted onto the blade,
with the stick fairly flat. Next up, the ball is played up and backwards over both the
attacker and the opponent. A quick turn follows to regain possession of the ball—unless
this trick is used to play a pass to a team mate. Great care needs to be taken not to lift
the stick higher than knee level when playing the ball. If the ball is shielded well, the
opponent is unlikely to see exactly what is going on before you actually execute this trick.
Dribbling can be done very effectively by varying the speed at which an attacker runs.
For example, running, and then suddenly slowing down, and then speeding up again may

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 37


be just enough to lose a defender. This variation may be extended with more or less
arbitrary turns, rotating to the backhand, then back to the forehand. Tempting the
defender to make a play for the ball by actively not shielding the ball as well as you can,
may provide the opportunity required to dribble the ball past them. The ball should be
kept on or near the blade all the time to prevent the defender stealing the ball.
Some players use the board as a way to get past opponents. Whilst often effective, the
rules restrict what is possible. It is permitted to run with the ball near the board,
however, such a run can be interrupted by a defender simply standing there. Not allowed
is the pressing of the ball against the board, and then running along the board. The main
reason for this is that there is no fair way to get the ball off an attacker running with the
ball in this way. If you run with the ball against the board for a prolonged time, the
referees will ask you to come away from the board. If the ball is pressed against the board
itself, you might be penalized straight away. The defenders need to have a reasonable
chance to get the ball off the attacker. Shielding the ball properly, as outlined above is
not a problem, because at least in theory, a defender could run around you, or indeed a
different defender may come and get the ball of you coming from the other side.
In most cases, dribbling is not the most effective way to play. Instead, a pass is normally
more effective. Passes are easier to play, faster, and also more likely to lead to a situation
where the ball can be shot on goal. Staying with dribbling, however, successful players
combine tricks, such as those outlined in this section. The tricks will always depend on
the level of skills of the player, but also, on what the defender does. In any case, ball
control is essential for dribbling. Finally, the position on the rink should always be borne
in mind. For example, the last defender on the rink should never even think about
dribbling. There are risks involved in all tricks, and the result is a single attacker in front
of the goal: something you should always try to prevent.
Fakes
Fakes are useful in floorball, as they are in many other sports. The aim is to make the
defender think that you will move one way, but you actually move the other. Fakes are all
about the subtle body signs, but also about agility and speed. Good ball skills are needed,
because you not only want to fool the opponent, but most likely want to do something
with the ball, too—such as running past with it, or passing it to somebody else. Fakes are
most successful when fast and decisive. An opponent you play often, such as your friends
and team mates, may learn your fakes. This is a challenge to increase the variety of fakes
you can do. When doing a fake, it is important to do it before you are too close to the
defender. If you wait too long, there is no space to get past the defender. On the other
hand, if you do it too early, there is time for the defender to recover from the surprise
move.
Fakes can be used to open up space for passing or shooting, too. The most basic and
probably most common form of a fake is where you first move to the left, but short of
actually running left, continue on the right. The right moment to change direction is
when the opponent has moved the weight of his or her body onto the other foot, making it
difficult to move back very quickly. Doing the fake yourself, you are ready and can make
use of this short moment.
In floorball, fakes are not only about the body, but also about the stick. As you can play
the ball both forehand and backhand, the trick is to make the opponent believe that you
are going to play the ball using the forehand and then actually play it backhand (or the
other way round). You are more credible if there is a real chance to play the forehand,
and also if you do use your forehand from time to time. Some players try to use the same
trick all the time, never actually playing the forehand, for instance. The opponents will
quickly learn, and be able to intercept the ball more easily.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 38


Two Opponents
Dealing with two opponents at the same time
is more difficult. The trick is to use shielding
2 as much as possible. An opponent in the back
is by far less dangerous than one right in front
of you. The next thing you will have to do is to
watch the sticks of the opponent. Keep the ball
moving, always close to the blade, and move it
1 away from the opponents’ blades. A
coordinated attack is more difficult to deal
with, but your moving the ball may turn it
into dealing with two opponents in turn,
Figure 70: Two opponents rather than at once. In fact, this is what you
want to do when dealing with two defenders at the same time. This can be done by
moving the ball out of the reach of one of the two opponents, and then use shielding for
the time being. Look out for those little gaps between the opponents’ blades, and lead the
ball through: good ball skills are obviously necessary. Figure 70 illustrates how blades
may be placed, and where the ball could be played in this case. The attacker shields
against one of the defenders (1), and holds the ball on the side away from the other one
(2). This ways the first defender cannot reach the ball because the attacker’s body (and
feet) is in the way, and the second defender cannot reach the ball because the attacker’s
stick is protecting it. An incorrect hit might be tempting for the second defender, but
would probably be an acceptable outcome for the attacker.
In some cases the two opponents come from the side. There are two approaches. One is to
place the feet as far apart as possible, and try to play the ball close to the body right in
front. The alternative approach is playing the ball close to the body, and use rotations
around your own body to keep the whole game more dynamic: an opponent previously
next to you can be behind you the next second, and so on. The faster you can play the ball,
whilst still keeping it under control, the more successful this latter alternative is.
Dealing with two opponents means that you will have to concentrate on their sticks, but
keep an eye open to their body movements. A player with all his or her weight on one foot
is less agile, and you may profit from this situation. Similarly, you should also try to keep
an eye on what is going on elsewhere on the rink—maybe a team mate you can play the
ball to. As long as you keep the ball moving, dealing with two opponents is easier than
when the ball stops. The faster you can keep the ball moving while still controlling it, the
more difficult it is for the defenders. Once the ball has stopped, it is much more difficult
to get it moving again.
If you have played with the same team mates for a while, you often find that you know
where they are on the rink without having to look carefully. When dealing with two
opponents, this is obviously an advantage, as you may venture a speculative pass, or may
only have to check one position whether your team mate is really there. When
considering a speculative pass, you should always assess the possibility of a counter-
attack should the pass be intercepted.
Passing
Whether shielding the ball or not, a player running with the ball should be ready to pass
the ball at any time. Passes can be played forehand and backhand.

Passing the Ball


The ball can be passed faster than any player can run. It is important to bear this in
mind when playing floorball. Whether running with the ball or not, a field player should
always be prepared to pass the ball. A ball can be passed both forehand and backhand,
and the more readily a player can hit a pass, the more advantageous for the game.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 39


Basic Low Pass
The most common pass is low on the floor. A
pass that is hit low is easy to receive and
therefore can be passed on much quicker than
any other pass. The ball should be kept close
to the blade until the ball is actually released.
Rather than a clean hit, a low pass is achieved
by a sweeping movement: much more like
pushing the ball. The ball is played from the
side of the body. As illustrated in figure 71,
the ball is kept on the blade from the
beginning of the pass. First, both the ball and
the blade are placed behind the body (grey).
Then follows the sweeping motion, and the
ball is released when next to the body (black).
The stick will often continue to move further
forward, although the ball is already on its
way.
Figure 71: Basic pass
A pass will stay flat on the floor much more if
the ball is dragged along from behind the body and released just next to the feet. The ball
will roll much more if released as described here, making it easier to control at the
receiving end. If the ball is released in front of the body, the blade is more open, and the
ball will bounce more.
When the pass is completed, the stick points into the direction where the ball has gone.
The player needs to keep a good balance during the pass Beginners will look at the blade
and the ball, but this is not generally a good idea. The aim should be to play the ball
without having to look where it is. This way the players can keep the head up and see
what is happening on the rink.
Wide Low Pass
A straight hook normally makes passing
easier, whilst a stiff blades gives more power.
This is important if the player wants to hit a
long pass. If the pass is very long, it may be
hit, but the sweeping movement should be
Figure 72: Wide low pass
kept if at all possible. Powerful passes are
possible without hitting the ball—as described in the previous section—, and precision
will be better. However, when hitting a pass, the ball may be hit from slightly behind the
leading foot, so that the ball will not bounce. The ball is kept next to the body to begin
with, and only the stick is moved behind (grey). The further forward the ball is actually
hit, the more likely is it that you hit the ball with an open face, and it will start bouncing.
Alternatively, keep the blade a bit turned
forward, so that the ball is hit with no open
face. The blade covers the ball slightly: as the
top of the blade is slightly ahead of the rest of
Figure 73: Keeping the top down the blade.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 40


Backhand Low Pass
Backhand passes are a bit more difficult,
although many players hit them all the time.
However, as with forehand passes, a sweeping
motion—dragged passes—will increase
precision. In order to play good backhand
passes, it helps to play the ball relatively far
back on the blade. The blade itself is turned a
bit so that the ball is touched more from above
Figure 74: Backhand low pass (see figure 73). Turning the blade a bit this
way should prevent the ball from bouncing. Keeping the stick itself close to the body
might help playing backhand passes. The ball is played relatively far back on the blade,
but the blade itself will touch the floor a bit further forwards (see figure 74). This way it
is possible to keep the top of the blade down. Conversely, keeping the stick itself further
away from the body might help, too. In this case, the focus is on the sweeping motion, not
so much on the position of the blade. In both cases the aim is to avoid playing the pass
with too much open face, and thus prevent the ball from bouncing.
A backhand pass can be played with the
forehand, too. Figure 75 illustrates how this
can be done. The ball is kept on the forehand,
played a bit in front of the body. Touching the
blade right at the front, the ball is pulled back.
The blade is kept at an angle so as to increase
Figure 75: Backhand pass using the the touch with the ball. It is the pulling
forehand movement that accelerates the ball. Using this
variation of passing it is easier to pass to a player slightly behind.
Basic High Pass
High passes can be played like a wrist shot (page 43 below), or hit. Precision is higher
where the blade and ball are in contact longer, but some players find that they have more
power when hitting a ball. For short high passes, hitting the ball is more difficult, and the
desired precision is difficult to achieve. A basic high pass is not very different from a basic
low pass. The key difference is that the blade is held more open, allowing the blade to go
under the ball and provide the desired lifting motion. This can be achieved by holding the
blade in a more open way, or by playing the ball in front of the body. Playing in front of
the body automatically means that the blade is more open.
A high pass can be used to play over the stick
of an opponent, over a defensive wall, or a
single opponent. As with the low pass, the
backhand pass is very similar. However, this
time, rather than turning the blade so that the
ball is touched more from above, the opposite
is desired. Many modern blades are relatively
thick towards the end, and the blade needs to
be turned quite a bit to place it under the ball.
It is easier to play high backhand passes with
the ball further away from the body, but in
Figure 76: Lowering the whole stick for play this is often not an option. Instead, the
a backhand high pass whole stick can be lowered so that the ball can
be placed under the ball (see figure 76). The difference when hitting a high pass is really
that the ball is hit, and the sweeping motion is replaced with a short back-swing.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 41


Wide High Pass
For wide high passes, the choice is the same:
using the wrist or hitting the ball. In many
respects, the pass is the same as a shot. The
players probably aim higher than they would
when shooting on the goal. Some players even
use slap-shot motions to hit a very wide high
Figure 77: Hitting the ball from
pass. This–like any wide high pass–can be
underneath useful to play over one or more opponents,
playing the pass to a team mate right in front of the goal.
There is also a kind of wide high pass that is rather unique, yet useful. The ball is hit
right at the bottom (see figure 77). To achieve this, the stick itself is held rather low,
lower still as outlined in figure 76. Some players find it useful of imagining their stick as
a frying pan. This technique will result in balls travelling relatively high and fast, but
they will return quite sharply. This is a great advantage if you want to play a pass above
a group of opponents. Other hit passes tend to fly more evenly and are thus more difficult
to receive. The stick is held quite low, and the blade is almost perfectly open. The stick is
dragged like in the dragged shot, perhaps in a less circular movement. The ball is hit
right at the bottom and should travel up fairly steeply. Whilst useful in the game,
especially for defenders, this passing technique will need training to perfect. Backhand
passes are possible in the same manner, but are a bit rarer. The main reason is that this
pass is usually played when the player is not under immediate pressure, and can thus
choose to play it forehand. Playing it backhand, it is important to lower the stick even a
bit more.
Receiving a Pass
Receiving a pass is as important as playing
one in the first place. For low passes, the
blade is on floor. The stick is placed a bit in
front of the body. The player stands well
Figure 78: The blade is moved balanced: The head is kept up, so that the
backwards with the ball to receive a pass player can see what is happening on the
rink. Ideally a player does not need to look down (this can be practiced). The ball is
touched very softly to avoid an immediate bounce. The blade moves backwards with the
ball, so as to slow it down. The blade is turned a bit, so that the ball is touched more on
the top—reducing bouncing even more. The ball is received in the middle of the blade.
Figure 78 illustrates this movement. Soft blades, and to a limited extent a soft flex can
help a little bit with receiving passes, but the key to success is the right technique.
A ball can be received backhand, too. The
backward movement becomes more important
to slow the ball down. Moreover, it can help to
turn the blade down even a bit more than
when playing forehand. If the pass is not too
fast, the ball can be received with the front of
the blade rather than the middle bit (see
figure 79). The ball is received right at the
front of the blade. The stick is held relatively
loosely, not firmly on the floor. The stick is
kept quite close to the body, almost straight
up. The ball is consequently received very
Figure 79: Receiving a backhand pass close to the body. The ball might bounce a
by keeping the grip quite loose little bit, but not far enough so that the ball is
lost.
Receiving a high ball is more difficult, and in almost all cases takes more time to control.
This is one of the reasons why low passes are preferred if possible. The key is to slow
down the ball as much as possible, and get it on the floor where the ball can be played

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 42


more easily. There are two approaches to receiving a high pass: catching the ball from
below, or keeping it down from above. The first approach is a bit like catching the ball
with a frying pan. The blade is kept very open, the stick rather flat. The ball is received
on the blade, and the blade is moved down as soon as the ball touches the blade. In fact,
the stick is already in a downward movement when contact is made. It is important that
contact is not made before the ball has come down to knee-level. Ideally, the ball is
slowed down completely when the blade reaches the floor. It either now sits on the blade
or gently drops off the blade.
The second approach is an attempt to catch the ball at the very point it reaches the floor.
The blade is kept very closed (see figure 73) and is placed on top of the ball at the right
moment. If played right, the ball will stay in place right under the blade. In both cases,
the player receiving the ball will sometimes miss it, and repeat the same procedure for
the second bounce.
An alternative and usually preferred way to receive a high ball is the use of the body. The
ball can be stopped with the chest, but jumping to do so is not allowed. This is useful for
very high passes. If the ball is not quite that high, the legs can be used, too. Normally, the
legs are used to kick the high ball once, before the ball is played closer to the floor with
the stick. Only one kick is allowed. Care must be taken not to use the legs to play the ball
above knee level. The thighs may be used when running only. Otherwise, the ball may be
kicked only up to knee level.
Direct Pass
Direct passes are an important aspect of a fast game and the first part of the movement
is the same as when receiving a pass. As the ball is received and the blade moves
backwards this also prepares the player to then hit the pass all in one continuous
movement. From the point furthest back when receiving the ball, the ball is then moved
forward straight away. Direct passes are easier to play when the previous pass was not
hit, since hit passes are more difficult to control (they may bounce in unpredicted
directions). The ball is received in the middle of the blade, and the blade is kept fairly
closed. The receiving of the ball may be closer to the body than the actual pass played
afterwards. This way, the stick is held a bit more loosely when receiving the pass, slowing
the ball more quickly. At the point the ball reaches the point furthest behind, full
pressure is applied, and a fast pass can be played.
High balls are extremely difficult to pass direct. Essentially, they are played as a volley
shot, but with a pass you would normally want more control. Some very advanced players
are able to receive a high pass and move to the airhook trick all at once, but not usually
when under pressure in a game.

Shooting
The aim of a shot normally is to score a goal. The ball needs to be released quickly and at
high speed. In floorball, there are different ways to shoot. Because a shot should not only
be fast but also placed with precision, the different kinds of shooting happily coexist.
What is more, a player able to play a greater variety of shots is able to shoot more often—
from different positions. Added to this is an element of surprise, where the opponents
cannot predict when an attacker is about to attempt to finish on the goal. Most players
use one to three different ways to shoot; but the more variations you can play, the more
effective the play.
Wrist Shot
The wrist shot is similar to playing a basic pass. The ball touches the blade all the time
until it is released. It is swept along from behind the body and released next to the body
or just slightly in front of it. As the stick is moved forward, the player pushes the stick
down so that it bends a bit (giving the shot power). The wrist is used to control the ball,
and give it the desired direction. The players keep their head up to focus on the target. A
blade with more open face makes it easier to shoot high, as does releasing the ball

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 43


slightly in front of the body. Players need to take care with high sticks, particularly
where there are other players in front of them.
Because the ball is not cleanly hit, the wrist shot may not be used at a free-hit or hit-in.
One way around this is to have another player merely touching the ball (this is
considered a clean hit), and then use a wrist shot.
Dragged Shot
The dragged shot differs from the wrist shot in that the ball is actually hit: it is the stick
that is dragged. The stick is moved backwards, in a slightly circular way. Whilst the stick
is dragged forward, the player pushes it down more and more. This pressure is slightly
released as the ball is actually hit, next to the body (see figure 72). The stick ends up
pointing in the direction of the shot. The head is kept up all the time, to focus on the
target. A blade with more open face makes it easier to shoot high. Hitting the ball in front
of the body will invariably make it travel higher.
The dragged shot has many advantages in real play. It is more powerful than a wrist
shot, making it ideal to shoot on the goal. Since the stick is dragged from behind, it is
easier to hit the ball; or put it the other way round: it is more difficult to miss the ball
altogether. This is an important point as players are always encouraged to keep their
head up and not look at the ball as they shoot. Where the ball is resting, such as in the
situation of a free-hit, missing the ball is not normally a problem. Where the ball is
played as a pass, possibly even deflected a bit, this is more of an issue. As with other
shots, care must be taken with high sticks in front.
Hit Shot (Forward Drive)
The hit shot is simple and preferred by some beginners. It is a crude shot that does not
take advantage of the floorball sticks, and players using the hit shot exclusively will find
it difficult to progress. The ball is hit next to the body or slightly in front. The players use
a back-swing to gain power, and the stick travels through the air to hit the ball. The shot
is fairly straight. Great care must be taken not to raise the stick above waist level,
especially on the back-swing. A high stick on the back-swing is never tolerated.
Many players find hit shots easier than other alternatives when shooting back-hand.
However, as with forehand shooting, such a shot does not make use of the characteristics
of floorball sticks, and players will not be able to progress from there.
Volleys
In floorball, volleys are generally difficult. They are essentially a hit shot, with the
difference being that the ball is hit in the air. The timing is crucial for a successful volley.
Even more than with the hit shot, great care must be taken with high sticks. Trying to
hit a ball mid-air may make it easy to forget the limits of where a ball can be played, and
the level to which a ball can be raised. Volleys are only allowed up to knee-level, making
them rather rare in floorball. However, their key advantage is the speed: they are always
played direct, leaving little time for the defender and often goalkeepers.
Slap-Shot
The slap-shot is a useful shot, allowing fast
and precise shooting. Importantly, maybe, it is
a shot that allows the players to perfect the
technique as they keep using it. The stick is
swung back and travels through the air to hit
the ball next or slightly in front of the body. As
with the dragged shot, a blade with open face
makes shooting high easier. The blade touches
the floor shortly before hitting the ball. The
Figure 80: Slap-shot player presses the stick down, and the bending
of the shaft and blade is used to get power in
the shot. It is indeed the flex of the stick that gives the power to the shot. As with the

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 44


dragged shot, having a stick that is too hard means that the player is unable to bend his
or her stick enough to get power into the shot. Similarly, a stick that is too soft is also
ineffective.
The blade touches the floor just before the ball is hit. The front of the blade touches the
floor slightly ahead of the rest of the blade, as illustrated in figure 80. This adds to the
power of the shot. The blade is actually straight once the ball is released.
The head should be kept up during the entire shot, allowing the player to focus on the
target. The swing, in particular the front-swing, needs to be watched. The slap-shot, like
other shots in floorball is not actually very loud. If the shot is very loud, the player
probably hit the floor too much, and actually lost power. In this case, the players should
focus on making the whole shot more fluid. It often helps to think about the ball being
released, not the ball being hit. Some players are afraid to hit the floor, and thus not bend
the shaft. It is important to understand that floorball sticks are designed to flex, and
indeed that this is the only way to produce very powerful shots. Technologies such as the
kickpoint or bubbles only work when the shaft is bent.
Spin
1 2 The success of the spin shot lies in the
surprise element, and its seamless integration
with shielding the ball. A spin shot is
essentially a wrist shot, with the difference
that the ball is dragged from much further
behind. In addition, the player’s body
undergoes a spin, hence the name. Whilst
shielding the ball, the player stands or runs
with the back towards the goal (1). The ball is
kept touching the blade in the middle or kept
4 very close to it. During the shot, the blade
3 travels in a circle. Once the player decides to
Figure 81: Spin shoot, the stick is moving, but at the same
time the body is spun. It is the body’s movement that adds power to the shot. The
forehand foot is placed a step behind (2), meaning that the body starts rotating, but also
that the rotation is easier. The weight of the body is on the backhand foot at this time. As
the shot progresses, the body is rotated, the blade is moved forward—like a wrist shot—,
and the weight of the body moves away from the backhand foot (3). The ball is released
next to the body, with the body weight relatively evenly distributed between both feet (4).
Turn
1 A turn is different from a spin shot, in that
the shot itself does not involve the rotation.
The player starts with the back towards the
goal, shielding the ball (1). Then, the ball is
2 played either between the legs, or in front of
4 but very close to the own forehand foot (2).
The player then rotates the body (3), and
shoots on the side of the body (4). The choice of
shot may include a wrist shot, a dragged shot,
3 or a slap-shot. In a sense, a turn is the
Figure 82: Turn combination of a trick with an ordinary shot.
The dragged shot is often easiest, but more advanced players may choose a slap-shot.
Most players find a turn easier than a spin, but this shot requires more space, or
defenders who are less vigilant.
Backhand Shot
To shoot backhand is more difficult for most players. The choice is largely between a
backhand wrist shot and a backhand dragged shot. For a wrist shot, the difficulty
normally lies in getting enough power. Because it is relatively difficult to move the blade

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 45


with the ball on the backhand (no cavity, no open face), the player’s skills are more
important. Whereas using the forehand power can be gained during the sweeping motion,
for the backhand this is more difficult. Modern blades make it easier to control the ball
forehand, but backhand, the blades are usually straight. This makes ball control more
difficult. You will probably release the ball further in front of the body, making it easier
to lift the ball (see figure 77). Furthermore, the stick itself is held a bit flatter, making it
easier to place the blade under the ball. Much of the power of the shot will come from the
arms. You must be careful not to lift the stick too high on the front-swing, especially
where there are other players nearby.
Backhand Dragged
A backhand dragged shot, in contrast, can be as powerful as its forehand counterpart.
Many players find it more difficult to give power to the shot, but this is largely a matter
of practice. The shot is essentially the same forehand and backhand. If anything, the
stick is held a bit flatter to compensate for the lack of open face.
Special Shots
Because real backhand shots are more challenging, some players shoot on the backhand
side using their forehand. There are a number of possibilities to do so. They all involve
turning the blade in a way that makes such a shot possible: essentially upside down. The
ball can be played relatively easily when kept on the front of the blade. As the blade is
kept upside down, the power of the shot cannot come from the shaft. Instead, you can give
the shot more power using your arms, or by sweeping the blade from further behind the
body. The basic move is the same as illustrated in figure 75.
It is also possible to hit the ball using the
forehand side of the blade. For this purpose,
the stick is rotated so that the blade is very
open. The front of the blade points downwards
a bit. The ball is hit just a little bit behind the
front of the blade. The blade should not be
completely flat; otherwise the ball will just
Figure 83: Front special jump up a bit. Similarly, the blade should not
be pointing downwards too much, as this will result in a shot that is essentially a flat
pass. Finding the right angle makes this shot difficult, and mostly useful for short
distances. Figure 83 illustrates how the blade is held for this shot.
There are many other ways to shoot, and the more of them you know, the more dangerous
you become as an attacker. More of a variety to shoot means more possibilities to shoot.
Patrik Lönell (http://www.skottskolan.se/filmklipp_English.html) lists 38 ways to shoot
on his website, all with video instructions. You should concentrate on a few basic shots
first, but always seek more skills once you feel comfortable with your current shots. The
video instructions hosted by the British federation are very useful as a starting point
(http://www.gbff.co.uk/coaching/videos.htm).

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 46


High Stick
When shooting you should always pay
attention to high sticks. The rules are very
clear about high sticks, and you should always
respect them. The main reason for the strict
rules regarding high sticks is the safety of
other players. It is a good habit not to raise
the stick high. Figure 84 illustrates what you
can and cannot do when shooting. For the
front-swing, the interpretations are more
generous. For the back-swing, there is no
excuse—simply because you cannot see what
is happening behind your back: whether
anyone is standing in the vicinity. If you learn
a new shot, and find your back-swing to be too
high, spend time to remedy this. Similarly,
you should be able to execute your shots
without raising the stick too high on the
forehand. This is crucial when other players
Figure 84: High stick are nearby
The ball can be played up to knee level. This is normally only a consideration for volley
shots. Front- and back-swing up to waist-level are fine. Back-swings above waist-level are
dangerous, and your opponents will be awarded a free-hit. A front-swing higher than
waist-level is only tolerated if no other player is nearby.

Best Shots
Your first aim when learning to shoot is
probably to release a relatively fast ball. As
you progress, you will want to control the
direction of the shot, and in fact all shots
played in floorball can be controlled. Other
schools argue that a shot on target should be
the prime focus, and that power will come
through practice.
In either case, ideally, you want to shoot
Figure 85: Generally best shots where the goalkeeper is weakest. Figure 85
illustrates the zones most difficult to defend for a goalkeeper. These zones include the top
corners, above the keeper’s shoulders under the cross-bar next to the head, the bottom
corners, and above the keeper’s legs closer to the goal posts. In most circumstances the
most successful shots are either under the cross-bar, or just above the goalkeeper’s legs.
Saying this, goalkeepers will of course be aware of these zones, and will try to move in a
way that you cannot shoot easily. The best shots are not necessarily those aimed at the
zones in figure 85, but those aimed at where there is a gap—especially a gap difficult for
the goalkeeper to move to defend. The top corners are almost always difficult to defend,
but the chances for most players of missing are also relatively high.

Goalkeeper
The goalkeeper is the last line of defence. He or she is relatively free how to defend the
ball when within the goal crease. Jumping, kicking, hitting, and blocking: all are allowed
if the action is directed at the ball.
Positions
Fast reflexes may be what distinguishes the best goalkeepers from the rest, but most
success probably comes from reducing the angle. By so doing, the goalkeeper reduces the
area where an attacker can shoot, making the whole undertaking more difficult. As with

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 47


outfield players, experience will teach the goalkeeper to read the game, and move into the
right position.
A goalkeeper positions himself or herself in a way to maximize the area of the goal
covered. No equipment is allowed to artificially increase the area covered, but the right
moves can ensure that the attackers do not have an easy life. Goalkeepers generally
choose to kneel, having their upper bodies cover the centre of the goal. The arms are kept
up, ready to catch high balls. Depending on where the ball is, the keeper moves to the left
or right of the goal. He or she may also move forwards and backwards.
The legs are generally kept closed, so that the ball cannot be played in between the legs.
When kneeling with the knees wide apart, the goalkeeper can keep the feet together at
the back. This way a ball getting past the legs through the middle will not end up in the
goal.
When play is behind the goal, many goalkeepers place one of their feet directly against
the nearest goalpost. This ways most attempts to hook the ball in from behind are foiled.
Angles
The key aspect of successful goalkeeping is
reducing the angles. The aim again is to
cover as much of the area of the goal as
possible. Figure 86 illustrates two successful
applications. In each case, the goalkeeper
situates himself or herself in a position so
that a straight line could be drawn between
the ball, the centre of the goal, and the
goalkeeper. If the attacker is further away,
Figure 86: Reducing angles the goalkeeper can move forward to increase
the covered area.
Reducing angles is so important that new goalkeepers probably want to focus on this
(together with keeping the hands up). In training, it is possible to attach two pieces of
string to the goals for the goalkeepers to get a feel of the correct positioning. In this case,
a piece of string is attached to each goal post. The attacker then positions himself or
herself somewhere, and the goalkeeper tries to get into the best position. The coach then
connects the pieces of string and the ball; giving the keeper a good idea whether he or she
is in the right place.
Goalkeeper Pass
Outfield players are not allowed to play a pass to their own keeper. This rule was
implemented to keep the game fast. If a ball is played to the keeper, the goalkeeper may
either let it pass, or kick it away with his or her feet. If the ball is touched with the arms,
a free-hit is given to the opposing team.
It is important to bear in mind that only active passes are counted as passes. This means
that if a ball bounces off a defender, the goalkeeper is still allowed to pick up the ball.
Throw-Out
There are many ways to throw out a ball. As with passes between outfield players, a
throw out along the floor is easiest to play for the field players. This is the chosen throw-
out when a goalkeeper throws the ball to a defender next to the goal, and where there is
no pressure from the opponents. Rather than throwing the ball, the goalkeeper rather
rolls the ball.
A throw-out may also be used to launch an
attack directly. This is common on small
rinks, or where one of the attackers is in a
promising position close to the other goal (or
Figure 87: Wide throw-out anywhere near or past the centre line). In this
case a throw-out rolling flat on the floor would

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 48


be too slow. Instead, the goalkeeper throws the ball wide. The ball is picked up and
thrown from above the head. The ball is thrown at the floor, so it bounces towards the
attacker, as illustrated in figure 87. The only thing to consider with such wide throw-outs
is that the ball needs to touch the floor before it crosses the centre line. (It may also touch
the rink or any field player, but this is difficult to control.)

Airhooking
The airhook is a very advanced skill; and in most game situations it is of relative little
use. Nonetheless, there is great interest in the trick, especially in young players.
Airhooking is also known as zorro moves, although some players make a difference. In
this case, the airhook is the trick that can be used in the game, where the ball is lifted in
the air and played around the goal or a defensive wall. Zorro moves, in contrast, refer to
freestyle moves. The difference really lies in that the ball is also played above knee-level
(even above the head), and the moves are not game related.
Idea
The basic idea is to keep the ball moving
in a circular manner, so that gravity is
overcome (see figure 88). There are a
variety of moves, and you should always
start with the easiest move. Do watch
other players, and the many videos now
available on the web. Most players able to
do the airhook are willing to give you
some tips. After all, it is not a secret, but
a skill.
Some players find it easier to do the
Figure 88: Air-hooking airhook one-handed to start with. The
following basic instructions are for players shooting left. If you shoot right, obviously
replace references to left and right. To start with, put the ball next to your left foot. Place
the ball right at the front of the blade, where the airhook basket is. Hold the stick as if
playing forehand (normal). The hand itself is twisted a bit (overturned wrist). You now
drag the ball in a circular movement to the right-hand side of your body. The ball should
stick on the blade as it travels through the air. As you move the stick to the right, move
the wrist, so that when you reach the end of the move on the right, the wrist is straight
again. Once the ball and stick are on their furthest right, the basket of your blade should
carry the ball. If the ball falls down, you have not moved the wrist in the correct way. It is
this movement of the wrist that requires great skill and training.
Once the ball and stick are on their furthest right, the movement carries on backwards
towards the left. The movement is essentially the same in reverse. As you move the ball,
make sure the ball and the stick remain together, and the ball does not drop from the
basket. The difficulty is to coordinate the movement of your stick whilst fighting the
centrifugal forces and gravity.
The airhook really does take a lot of skills, and it is probably not something you should
aim to do when you just start playing floorball. If you want to master the airhook, you
need to keep training persistently. It takes many experienced players a couple of months
to learn the basic trick. The good news is that once you master the basics properly—that
is once you are able to control the ball in the air—other zorro moves are not that much
more difficult to achieve.
It is also important to hook your blade for the trick. There are now blades that facilitate
creating a basket for the ball. A few even come pre-hooked in the right shape. The better
the basket, the easier it is to keep the ball. However, even the best equipment does not
replace the skills needed to airhook.

The Floorball Book — Tactics (110508) 49


Getting There
If you want to learn to do the airhook, the first thing to do is to sort out the hook. It’s
usually best to seek advice from an experienced airhooker. Without a good basket, the
trick is extremely difficult; not that it was easy anyway. Bear in mind that some blades
are difficult to hook for the airhook. Some players find it useful to start with a hook that
is too large. You can use this option if you have a spare stick you do not want to use in a
proper game. If you over-hook the blade, you need to gradually reduce the hook once you
master the basics.
If you only have one stick, or do not want to over-hook your blade, some players
successfully start with a footbag (hackey sack). These bags come with greater inertia and
may help you getting the movements right. Tennis balls are less suitable because of their
greater weight. In any case, the key to success is that you keep trying.

Licence
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
2.0 UK: England & Wales License. To view a copy of this license, visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/uk/ or send a letter to Creative Commons,
543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
Authors and contributors: Tidus (principal author); Ian Carrie (contributor)
Created 2006–8.

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